Pro-independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun’s family photo and calligraphy to undergo conservation treatment

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Pro-independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun’s family photo and calligraphy to undergo conservation treatment

Family photo of independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun taken in October 1909 / Courtesy of Samsung Foundation of Culture
Family photo of independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun taken in October 1909 / Courtesy of Samsung Foundation of Culture


By Park Han-sol

October 26, 1909, a year before the annexation of Korea by the Japanese Empire, is remembered by Koreans as the day independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun (1879-1910) pulled the trigger on Ito Hirobumi , four-time Prime Minister of Japan and first Resident General of Korea, upon his arrival in Harbin, China.

After the assassination, Ahn was arrested on the spot and sent to Lushun prison, where he spent the last days of his life before being sentenced to death the following year.

This year, the three historical artifacts attesting to Ahn’s time in prison — a family photo and two of his calligraphic works — will undergo a year-long conservation treatment by the Samsung Foundation of Culture.

The Leeum Museum of Art, run by the foundation, will drive the process and hand them over to the original owner, Ahn Junggeun Memorial Association, in March next year. This is the first time the foundation has been involved in the preservation of cultural artifacts related to the independence movement.

A faded black-and-white photo of Ahn’s wife, Kim A-ryeo, and two young sons preserved in a silk album was the last remnant of the imprisoned activist’s family life.

He never had a chance to reunite with his family after the incident in Harbin, as Kim and his two children arrived in the city a day after the shooting, when he had already been arrested.

According to the foundation, the photo in question was taken by Japanese police, who became suspicious of the three Koreans dressed in hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) wandering around the Chinese city and brought them to the Japanese Consulate General for questioning.

It is presumed to have been given to Ahn later by Sonoki Tsueyoshi, his acting interpreter, following his trial when he was sentenced to death. After Ahn’s death, Sonoki kept the object for years before his daughter donated it to an anonymous Japanese collector. In 2020, the photo album was able to return to Korean soil.

Ahn Jung-geun's calligraphic works produced during his time in Lushun Prison / Courtesy of Samsung Foundation of Culture
Ahn Jung-geun’s calligraphic works produced during his time in Lushun Prison / Courtesy of Samsung Foundation of Culture

Two calligraphic works due for conservation treatment were produced in March 1910, a few days before its execution.

One, written in words that reflect Ahn’s Catholic faith, returned to Korea in 2020, along with his family photo album.

Another, which quotes Confucius’ remarks in the classic Chinese text, The Analects ― “A man of great vision and virtue, sacrifices his life to do good things” ― was given to Japanese journalist Motoko Komatsu , which covered the trial event. The journalist took the work to Japan in 1921. Almost a century later, in 2016, the calligraphy was donated to Korea by one of his descendants.

“The foundation will continue to strive to help preserve cultural artifacts related to the independence movement that lack the financial and human resources to promote their values ​​to future generations,” said Ryu Moon-hyung of the Samsung Foundation for Peace. culture in a press release.

Family photo of independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun taken in October 1909 / Courtesy of Samsung Foundation of Culture
Family photo of independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun taken in October 1909 / Courtesy of Samsung Foundation of Culture


By Park Han-sol

October 26, 1909, a year before the annexation of Korea by the Japanese Empire, is remembered by Koreans as the day independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun (1879-1910) pulled the trigger on Ito Hirobumi , four-time Prime Minister of Japan and first Resident General of Korea, upon his arrival in Harbin, China.

After the assassination, Ahn was arrested on the spot and sent to Lushun prison, where he spent the last days of his life before being sentenced to death the following year.

This year, the three historical artifacts attesting to Ahn’s time in prison — a family photo and two of his calligraphic works — will undergo a year-long conservation treatment by the Samsung Foundation of Culture.

The Leeum Museum of Art, run by the foundation, will drive the process and hand them over to the original owner, Ahn Junggeun Memorial Association, in March next year. This is the first time the foundation has been involved in the preservation of cultural artifacts related to the independence movement.

A faded black-and-white photo of Ahn’s wife, Kim A-ryeo, and two young sons preserved in a silk album was the last remnant of the imprisoned activist’s family life.

He never had a chance to reunite with his family after the incident in Harbin, as Kim and his two children arrived in the city a day after the shooting, when he had already been arrested.

According to the foundation, the photo in question was taken by Japanese police, who became suspicious of the three Koreans dressed in hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) wandering around the Chinese city and brought them to the Japanese Consulate General for questioning.

It is presumed to have been given to Ahn later by Sonoki Tsueyoshi, his acting interpreter, following his trial when he was sentenced to death. After Ahn’s death, Sonoki kept the object for years before his daughter donated it to an anonymous Japanese collector. In 2020, the photo album was able to return to Korean soil.

Ahn Jung-geun's calligraphic works produced during his time in Lushun Prison / Courtesy of Samsung Foundation of Culture
Ahn Jung-geun’s calligraphic works produced during his time in Lushun Prison / Courtesy of Samsung Foundation of Culture

Two calligraphic works due for conservation treatment were produced in March 1910, a few days before its execution.

One, written in words that reflect Ahn’s Catholic faith, returned to Korea in 2020, along with his family photo album.

Another, which quotes Confucius’ remarks in the classic Chinese text, The Analects ― “A man of great vision and virtue, sacrifices his life to do good things” ― was given to Japanese journalist Motoko Komatsu , which covered the trial event. The journalist took the work to Japan in 1921. Almost a century later, in 2016, the calligraphy was donated to Korea by one of his descendants.

“The foundation will continue to strive to help preserve cultural artifacts related to the independence movement that lack the financial and human resources to promote their values ​​to future generations,” said Ryu Moon-hyung of the Samsung Foundation for Peace. culture in a press release.
































































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