Proclamation of Korean Independence

We herewith proclaim the independence of Korea and the liberty of the Korean people. This we proclaim for the world to witness the equality of all humans; this we proclaim for our own posterity to enjoy the inherent right of independence and self-respect.

We are declaring our independence by the solemnity of our five-thousand-year history; by the loyalty of twenty million people; by the yearning for the advancement of everlasting liberty; by the desire to take part in the global reform rooted in human conscience. This is a righteous claim to fulfill the holy will of God and the spirit of our age calling for the fair co-existence of all humankind. Therefore, no power in this world shall suppress our independence.

For the first time in our 5000 years’ history, we have suffered for over a decade under foreign tyranny while falling a victim to the obsolete imperialism and authoritarianism. How long have we been deprived of our right to live? How immeasurable is the damage to our national pride and honor as well as to our spiritual growth? How many opportunities have we missed to make our own creative contribution to the progress in the world civilization?

For certain, if we are to overcome our longstanding resentment; if we are to extricate ourselves from today’s pain; if we are to eliminate the fear for the future; if we are to resuscitate our trampled national pride; if we as individuals are to reach our full potential; if we are to save our children from the legacy of shame; if we are to bequeath to our future generations blessing and prosperity, the most urgent mission is to establish the independence of our people. Now that we people of twenty million keep a sword in heart, and that the common value of the humankind and conscience of the era stand up for us equipped with arms of justice and morality, what can stop us from pressing forward to defeat the strongest and what purpose can we not accomplish?

We have no desire to accuse Japan of breaking many solemn treaties since 1876, nor to single out particularly the school teachers or government officials who merely seek a conqueror’s gratification, treating the heritage of our ancestors as a colony of their own, and our civilized culture as savages. We have no intention to find fault with Japan’s contempt of our long and distinguished civilization and the principles on which it rests. We are pressed to reprimand ourselves, and thus have little time to reproach others. Busy with today’s work, we have little time to chastise the faults of yesterday. Today, our only duty is to rebuild ourselves, not to demolish others.

Our aim is to explore our new destiny according to the solemn dictates of our conscience, not to squabble with others over fleeting grudges and old animosities. It is to restore the natural and rational foundation for the world free from the logic of power by rectifying the unnatural and irrational ambition of the Japanese politicians in the grip of obsolete ideas.

Behold the consequence of the annexation formerly made with no national consensus! It has inevitably led to a deep trench of everlasting resentment between two peoples under the influence of intimidation used as a temporary measure, inequality caused by discrimination, and statistics falsified to justify it.

For both countries to avoid disaster and foster amity, the best way is for sure to boldly correct old wrongs and to build up a new relationship based on true mutual understating.

Moreover, the oppression on 20 million Korean people filled up with bitterness and enmity will never secure eternal peace in Asia. Undoubtedly, it will exacerbate the apprehension and distrust of four hundred million Chinese people who hold the key to East Asian stability and, as a result, will lead to the unrest and eventual downfall of the entire region.

Therefore, the reasons why we proclaim the independence of Korea are as follows: 1) to permit Koreans to return to their rightful lives, 2) to enable the Japanese to break away from their wrongful path and concentrate on their responsibility as a major player in East Asia, 3) to free the Chinese from their nightmare of uncertainty and anxiety about Japan, 4) to make an indispensable step from the stability of East Asia toward the global well-being of all humanity and world peace. This is far from a matter of narrow-minded resentment.

Behold! A new world is approaching before our very eyes! The age of might has receded, and the age of morality has arrived. The spirit of humanism cultivated throughout the past century now begins to throw its light on a new chapter in world history. Just as a new spring has come hastening the rebirth of every living thing, our pulse, once frozen in the bitter cold and snow, now quickens in the warm breeze and sunshine. The good fortune of heaven and earth has returned to us, and we ride the changing tide of the world. Do not hesitate or flinch! By protecting our inalienable individual right to freedom, we will enjoy our lives to the full. By realizing our bountiful creativity, our national civilization will flower in the warmth of spring that pervades the world.

We hereby rise up! Conscience is on our side, and truth marches with us. Men and women, young and old, leave your darkened corners and partake in the joyful resurrection along with all creatures! The spirit of our ancestors protects us from inside for thousands of years; the tide of the new world protects us from outside. To begin is to succeed! Let us march straight into the light!

We hereby pledge the following:

1.Today’s undertaking reflects the demands of our people for justice, morality, survival, and prosperity. Therefore, we will act solely in the spirit of liberty, never in the spirit of enmity.

2.To the last person and to the last moment, we will forthrightly express the righteous will of the Korean people.

3.We will respect order in all our actions and ensure that our demeanor and claims are always honorable and upright.

On the first day of the month of March of the year four thousand two hundred and fifty two in calendar year of Dangun (A.D. 1919)