China Opens Memorial for Korean Independence Fighter

China has opened a memorial in Harbin honoring Korean independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun, who assassinated the first Japanese resident-general of Korea, Hirobumi Ito, in 1909.

The assassination took place just before imperial Japan's brutal occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

The 200 sq.m memorial was built by remodeling the former VIP room of Harbin Railway Station and offers a clear view of the platform where Ahn shot and killed Ito. A plaque in Chinese states that this is the scene of the assassination.

Displayed inside are materials related to Ahn's struggle against Japanese colonial occupation, including photos and other documents portraying his life and beliefs. They are labeled in Chinese and Korean.

People visit a new memorial commemorating Korean freedom fighter Ahn Jung-geun at Harbin Railway Station on Sunday. /Xinhua People visit a new memorial commemorating Korean freedom fighter Ahn Jung-geun at Harbin Railway Station on Sunday. /Xinhua

President Park Geun-hye asked Chinese President Xi Jinping during her visit to China in June last year for cooperation in building a simple monument, but China went further and built the memorial center, according to the Foreign Ministry here.

It was paid for by the Harbin city government and rail authority. China consulted Korea but Japan has reportedly been left in the dark.

In November last year, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the construction of the monument "would not help" Seoul-Tokyo relations and called Ahn a "criminal."

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei rebutted Suga at a press briefing at that time by saying, "Ahn Jung-geun is a very famous anti-Japanese fighter in history. He is respected by the Chinese people as well."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 20, 2014 11:13 KST