|The bereaved family members of Park Tae-jeong, wife of the nephew of Korean independence activist An Jung-geun, carry Park's photo and coffin during her funeral ceremony at Ewha University Seoul Hospital in Gangseo District, Seoul, Monday. Yonhap.|
By Nam Hyun-woo
Park Tae-jeong, the wife of the nephew of Korean independence movement activist An Jung-geun, has died at the age of 91. Among An's surviving family members, she was the closest to An, and was known to have suffered financial problems until her final days.
According to the Center for Historical Truth and Justice, Park died Saturday after a month of treatment for cerebral infarction. Her funeral ceremony was held at Ewha University Seoul Hospital in Gangseo District, Seoul, Monday, and she was buried in a Catholic cemetery in Gyeonggi Province.
Park was a daughter-in-law of An Jeong-geun, the second younger brother of An Jung-geun. Jeong-geun was also an independent activist who served in the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, which existed from 1919 to 1948, when the country was under Japanese colonial rule and for a few years after liberation.
Park's husband, Jin-saeng, was the second son of Jeong-geun. After Korea's liberation, Jin-saeng served as an officer in the Navy and became a diplomat in the 1960s. While he was working as an ambassador at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security ― now called the Korea National Diplomatic Academy ― he was dismissed by the Chun Doo-hwan administration in 1980 and suffered from a cerebral infarction for eight years until dying in 1988.
During his eight years of treatment, the family also suffered from financial difficulties. According to the center, the Park family lived on a combined income of approximately 500,000 won ($430) from a monthly pension that Park's daughter received from the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs and 200,000 won from a basic pension that Park received. An offer was made to donate a home for the Park family to live in, but the family refused, saying, "The home should be donated to people in more need."
Park's death came just three days before Korea was to commemorate the 112th anniversary of An Jung-geun's assassination of Resident-General of Korea Ito Hirobumi, at Harbin Station on Oct. 26, 1905. Ito forced the Korean Empire to sign the 1905 Eulsa Treaty, which deprived Korea of its diplomatic sovereignty and made it a protectorate of Imperial Japan. An was imprisoned immediately and later executed by the Japanese authorities on March 26, 1910.
An's assassination played a pivotal role in informing the world about Imperial Japan's colonial rule of Korea and in energizing the domestic independence movement. The Korean government in 1962 posthumously awarded him the Order of Merit for National Foundation of the Republic of Korea Medal, which is the highest civil decoration in the country.