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<b>Kim Yang-moo: Who is he and why does he matter?</b>

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작성자 minjok 작성일02-01-28 00:00 조회1,992회 댓글0건


By Jimmy Cho, Minjok Tong-shin Staff Writer

I learned of the Kim Yang-moo story recently. There was a memorial and teach-in in his honor here in Los Angeles on the second anniversary of his death. Minjok Tong-shin editor Roh Kil-nam brought the Kim Yang-moo story to the Korean Progressive Korean community here in Los Angeles. And thus I learned of Kim Yang-moo’s importance to the One-Korea movement.

kym-03.jpg [Photo:Jimmy Cho gives a presentation about The late Kim Yang-moo, great Korean patriot and Tong-il movement leader]

Kim Yang-moo was Vice Chairman of the Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification, South Korean Chapter. The Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification was established in 1990 and comprised of three elements: South Koreans, North Koreans, and overseas Koreans.

For his efforts in realizing a reunified Korea, Kim Yang-moo was arrested and imprisoned four times. First, on July 5, 1994 for trying to organize a district office in Kwang-ju. Again, on November 29, 1995. Again, on July 19, 1997. And finally on August 15, 1998. There was another warrant for his arrest issued on August 13, 1999, but he was able to avoid arrest by finding sanctuary in Myong-dong Cathedral. All these arrests and imprisonments were in violation of the National Security Law, that out-dated draconian relict from the days of military dictatorship.

Kim Yang-moo was diagnosed with colon cancer while in prison. Although he was dying, he never gave up the struggle. He was in and out of the hospital, and all this time continued to hold hunger and over-night strikes. Kim Yang-moo finally passed away on January 26, 2000, from colon cancer.

Kim Yang-moo preached a philosophy of nationalism. His philosophy was comprised of three principles. First, a focus on independence, meaning no interference from Superpowers. Second, a focus on peaceful reunification, meaning no war. And third, a focus on method by grand unity, meaning a unity of South Koreans, North Koreans, and overseas Koreans. These three principles were embodied in the 7.4 Declaration of July 4, 1972. The 7.4 Declaration announced the support for these three principles.

Kim Yang-moo’s story is the story of government repression in the 1990’s, even as South Korean made the transition from military dictatorship to a so-called democratic society. President Roh Tae-woo announced through broadcast, that he would allow North Koreans to come to South Korea, but later changed his mind. What made him even consider allowing North Koreans into South Korea was pressure from the Korean progressive grassroots. But of course, President Roh’s policy once again hardened and repression continued as before. It became impossible to have a preparation meeting. Overseas Koreans first went to South Korea and received the recommendation and then went to North Korea. Hwang Suk-young was a South Korean representative who went illegally to North Korea. And all through the 1990’s, the South Korean government continued to repress the Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification, and the greater One-Korea movement.

Since Kim Yang-moo’s death, there has been a split in the One Korea movement over his legacy. One group, the revisionists, wanted to use a different name, and to exclude representatives from North Korea. The other group, the group that most closely reflects Kim Yang-moo’s philosophy, voiced that we must keep going with the same principles and methods.

What can we learn from Kim Yang-moo’s life? Kim Yang-moo never gave up the struggle. He fought through imprisonment and sickness and death, but remained true to the struggle and his philosophy. He taught us many things. He told us that in order to achieve a One-Korea, we must “Not do by head alone. But to do by head and feet.” Kim Yang-moo taught us that we must never give up the struggle and in doing so we must never give up our principles.

It is the job of politicians to compromise. It is the job of the grassroots to force politicians to negotiate. Only by tremendous pressure from the grassroots will the government concede to our demands. This was shown in the overthrow of Chun Doo-Hwan. This was shown by Roh Tae-woo’s almost conceding to the demands of the One Korea movement. If we never give up the struggle and never give up our principles, if we never blink, the politicians are sure to blink.

Like other great leaders of grassroots movements worldwide, Kim Yang-moo would have been sure to echo the words of Frederick Douglas who said: “Without struggle, there will be no progress.” And the words of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who said: “Liberation is never freely given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

[Minjok-Tongshin 1-28-2001]
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