South Korea Releases Japanese colonial collaborator list

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An independent committee putting together an encyclopedia of collaborators during the Japanese colonial era on Monday announced an initial list of 3,090 names, many of them leading figures in Korea’s postwar development, to be included in the tome.

The Institute for Research in Collaborationists Activities said the standard of selection was cooperation with Japan's theft of Korea's sovereignty, participation in institutions of imperial control, interference with the independence movement, cooperation with Japan's attempts to wipe out Korean culture and its World War II invasions, and former independence fighters who cooperated with the occupying forces.

It divided collaborators into 13 groups, including traitors, advisors to the Japanese Government-General, those who served in the imperial legislature, police, army officers, judges, pro-Japanese groups, religious leaders, artists and cultural figures, media publishers, and war collaborators. "We included military officers above the rank of second lieutenant and police officers above the rank of lieutenant,” the committee’s chairman, Yoon Kyoung-ro, said. “Even if they engaged in no particular pro-Japanese acts, if they were in a certain position they must take social responsibility."

The list includes the founders of leading Korean universities. Kim Sung-soo, Yoo Jin-oh, Paek Nam-joon and Kim Hwal-lan were founders or presidents of prestigious private universities like Korea University, Yonsei University and Ehwa Woman's University. Former president Park Chung-hee is there for voluntarily joining the Japanese military and exceptionally rising to company-grade rank. A large number of well-known artists and intellectuals were included, among them writers Choi Nam-seon, Lee Gwang-su and Mo Yun-suk, composers Hong Nan-pa and Hyun Je-myeong, painter Kim Gi-chang and leading historian Lee Byeong-do.

The project is being carried out with W750 million (US$750,000) in donations from Internet users and W800 million from the National Institute of Korean History, which is run by the Ministry of Education. The committee plans to announce a second list of overseas and regional collaborators and publish the complete encyclopedia in December 2007. It seems the compendium will have an influence on the activities of a presidential committee launched on May 31 that is separately looking into the history of collaboration during the colonial period.

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