Taiwan’s Preservation of Colonial Historical Buildings Compares Favorably with Korea’s Destruction
There are other examples, such as the Ewa Stone Culture Village in Busan, where Japanese graves have been converted into homes…
Article on February 23rd,2022 Mayo Hada (Business writer. After graduating from Doshisha University and working for a Japanese company for 4 years, she moved to Seoul, Korea in 2014 to research the situation in Japan and Korea by herself. While working for a Korean company, she also writes as a business writer.)
Focus Taiwan, a Taiwanese media outlet, published an online article on February 19 titled “Ruins of Former Japanese Military Housing to be Developed as Cultural Facilities, Pingtung County Mayor Calls for Visitors.
Pingtung County in southern Taiwan will hold a lantern festival at the “Victory Star Village Creative Life Park,” a cultural facility built on the remains of former army dormitories from the Japanese occupation era. The Pingtung County Chief posted on social networking sites, calling for people to come and visit, saying, “We have created a spot unparalleled in the whole country by preserving traces of history and blending them with works of art.
Focus Taiwan posted a photo of the brick building with the article, showing the beautifully decorated interior, which has become a trendy “trendy” place to visit. If it weren’t for the Covid disaster, I would love to visit.
This building was a dormitory for former Japanese army personnel, and 69 buildings remain in the cultural complex, including residences for national army personnel. Since the management was transferred from the Ministry of National Defense to Pingtung County, the building was registered as a historical building (2007).
Japanese occupation of Taiwan lasted from 1895 to 1945, and the 8th Army Flying Regiment was stationed in Pingtung County in 1927.
Since the buildings remaining in the cultural facilities are about 100 years old, many parts of them are in a poor state of preservation, and the county has given up on complete restoration to create a park that utilizes the remains. Some sections of the park are still under construction, but it is expected to be fully opened to the public before this summer.
In the past, Taiwan, like South Korea, had a period of anti-Japanese education. In the case of Taiwan, however, President Lee Teng-hui, who passed away in 2021, stopped this anti-Japanese education and ensured that the people of Taiwan received correct historical education, which is the reason for the current relationship between Japan and Taiwan.
It is precisely because the teachings of President Lee Teng-hui have been handed down to the present day that historical buildings from the era of Japanese colonial rule still remain in Taiwan. If Taiwan were a country ridden with anti-Japanese sentiment, these structures would have been the first to be torn down as “remnants of Japanese imperialism.
South Korea, on the other hand, is one of the most anti-Japanese nations in the world. The majority of the Korean people believe that the “dregs of Japanese imperialism” should be eliminated.
Full-Scale Liquidation of “Remnants of Japanese Imperialism” Underway in South Korea
Last year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it would liquidate 3,022 cases, including 262 land and 2,760 buildings in the names of Japanese nationals and Japanese companies in the Land and Building Registry. In cases where there are no buildings or land listed in the ledger, the city has announced that it plans to erase even the registry at the Supreme Court Registry Office, and is poised to proceed in earnest with the liquidation of the remnants of Japanese imperialism.
The project began in 2018 when Seoul’s Jung-gu District was the first in the nation to compile 1,056 cases. They will be transferred to the procurement agency so that the buildings and land can be nationalized if they actually exist, but depending on the administration, these structures could be demolished.
In Korea, the Korean Governor-General’s Office building has so far been demolished, and train stations, department stores, and hotels built during the Japanese colonial period have been rebuilt, thus erasing their original appearance.
In addition, the residues of Japanese colonial rule are not limited to buildings. In Gyeongui-do, the school emblem, a vestige of the Japanese colonial era, has been redesigned, and the school song, whose lyrics and music were written by pro-Japanese figures, has been replaced with a new one. The children’s lives have also been greatly affected.
Japanese people think it is a waste to demolish historical buildings because of anti-Japanese sentiment. It is only natural, because once demolished, they will never be restored to their original state. The Taiwanese also maintain the remains of the former army dormitories from the Japanese colonial period and use them as cultural facilities because they feel the same way as the Japanese do.
Koreans, on the other hand, believe that “Japanese imperialists invaded Korea and deprived our ancestors of their freedom. However, this is why I think it would be a good idea to preserve buildings and other evidence and use them in times of emergency. There is nothing better than seeing the same facts through documents and through actual objects.
Busan Eodeok Stone Inscription Cultural Village, Busan, using Japanese graves
In commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Korean Provisional Government’s declaration of war against Japan on December 10, 2021, and the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in the U.S., a campaign to renovate the homes of descendants of independence veterans who were active in the anti-Japanese armed struggle was launched on the video publishing website, YouTube.
This project is part of the “Campaign to Renovate Homes of Descendants of Independence Merit Scholars” conducted by Korea Habitat (an international non-profit organization that builds homes and villages for people suffering from poor housing conditions) and Sungshin Women’s University Professor Hsu Hyeon-deok, and the renovated The result is a very stylish modern-style house. It is not a house that one would expect to be the home of the descendants of the Independent Order of Merit.
The house before the renovation looked like it was about to fall apart, so it would have been better to build a new house at a lower cost, but I feel that the renovation was too poor to be called “the house of the descendants of the Independent Order of Merit.
Some Koreans object to the demolition of historical buildings, saying, “The Japanese colonial period was a period of refraction and hardship, but we must find historical lessons through the cultural heritage built during that period.
A good example of this would be Busan’s Ami Stone Inscription Cultural Village.
This park was built on the site of a Japanese cemetery, and Japanese gravestones can be seen throughout the park. The gravestones are used for stairs, stone walls, and other purposes, and the city of Busan has registered this park as a registered cultural asset, although it does not look good that Koreans keep stepping on them every day. Residents and experts in the city have also expressed their intention to protect and nurture the historical value of the park.
Taiwan pays respect to historical buildings, South Korea does not
Even though it was during the Korean War in 1950, the evacuated Koreans were able to use the cemetery to build houses here because it was a Japanese cemetery. Koreans are known to take good care of their graves, so if the graves were their own, they would have avoided building on top of them. However, this is also a historical structure. We Japanese would be grateful to have such an act of warning against the Japanese preserved.
However, such voices are drowned out by the claims of people like Hsu Hwa-deok.
For Japanese people, when comparing the pro-Japanese nation of Taiwan with the anti-Japanese nation of South Korea, it is inevitable that they will have favorable feelings toward the pro-Japanese nation. However, even from an objective standpoint, it is clear that South Korea’s “Japanese imperial dregs” approach to the treatment of these historical monuments is a mistake. I was reminded of this through the Taiwanese media’s coverage of this issue.