Memorial park for independence fighter to open in Kazakhstan

A memorial park commemorating Hong Beom-do, a revered Korean independence fighter against Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule, will open at his former burial site in Kazakhstan later this week, Seoul's veterans ministry said Wednesday.

South Korea had pledged to build the memorial at the site in Kyzylorda in southern Kazakhstan after repatriating his remains to Seoul for burial at Daejeon National Cemetery in Daejeon, 139 kilometers south of Seoul, in August 2021.

A ceremony marking the park's opening will take place Friday (local time), with South Korean Vice Veterans Minister Yoon Jong-jin and some 60 others expected to attend the event.

Hong is known for leading Korean independence forces in major battles in Manchuria in 1920, including the victory at the Battle of Fengwudong. In 1921, he moved to the Soviet Union to seek refuge from Japanese forces.

He was forced to relocate to current-day Kazakhstan in 1937 under then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's policy, along with many other ethnic Koreans. He died in 1943 at the age of 75, two years before Korea's liberation from Japan's colonial rule.

Hong has recently become the subject of an ideological dispute in South Korea after the defense ministry announced in August it was considering relocating his busts from its headquarters and the Korea Military Academy, citing his past record of collaborating with Soviet communist forces.

The move has met strong objection from the opposition Democratic Party and advocates for independence fighters. (Yonhap)