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Declaration of Independence
We herewith proclaim the independence of Korea and liberty of the Korean people.
We tell it to the world in witness of the equality of al nations, and we pass it on to our posterity as their
We make this proclamation, having back of us history of forty-three centuries and 20,000,000 united,
loyal people. We take this step to insure, to our children for all time to come, life and liberty in accord with
awakening conscience of this new era. This is the clear will of God,the moving principle of the present age,
the just claim of the whole human race.It is something that cannot be stamped out, or stifled, or gagged,
or suppressed by any means.
Victims of an older age, when brute force ad the spirit of plunder ruled, we have come after these long
thousands of years to experience the agony of ten years of foreign oppression, with every loss of the right
to live, every restriction of the freedom of thought, every damage done to the dignity of life,
every opportunity lost for a share in the intelligent advance of the age in which we live.
Assuredly, if the defects of the past are to be rectified, if the wrongs of the present are to be righted,
if future oppression is to be avoided, if thought is to be set free, if right of action is to be given a place,
if we are to deliver our children from the painful heritage of shame, if we are to leave blessings and
happiness intact for those who succeed us, the first of all necessary things is the complete independence
of our people. What cannot our twenty millions do, with hearts consecrated to liberty,in this day when human
nature and conscience are making a stand for truth and right? What barrier can we not break, what purpose can
we not accomplish?
We have no desire to accuse Japan of breaking many solemn treaties since 1876, nor to single out specially
the teachers in the schols or the Government officials who treat the heritage of our ancestors as a colony of
savages, and who delight only in beating us down and bringing us under their heel.
We have no wish to find special fault with Japan's lack of fairness of her contempt for our civilization and
the principles on which our state rests; we, who have greater cause to reprimand ourselves, need not spend time
in finding fault with others; neither need we, who require so urgently to build for the future, spend useless hours
over what is past and gone. Our urgent need today is the rebuilding of this house of ours and not the discussion
of who has broken it down, or what has caused its ruin. Our work is to clear the future of defects in accord
with the earnest dictates of conscience. Let us not be filled with bitterness of resentment over past
agonies or past occasions for anger.
Our part is to influence the Japanese government, dominated as it is by the old idea of brute force which
thinks to run counter to reason and universal law, so that it will change and act honestly and in accord with
the principles of right and truth.
The result of annexation, brought about against the will of the Korean people, is that the Japanese are
concerned only for their own gain, and by a false set of figures show a profit and loss account between us
two people most untrue, digging a trench of everlasting resentment deeper an deeper the farther they go.
Ought not the way of enlightened courage to be to correct the evils of the past by ways that are sincere,
and by true sympathy and friendly feelings make a new world in which the two peoples will be equally blessed?
To bind by force twenty millions of resentful Koreans will mean not only loss of peace forever for this
part of the Far East, but also will increase the ever-growing suspicions of four hundred millions of Chinese
upon whom depends the safety of the Far East, besides strengthening the hatred of Japan.
From this all the rest of the East will suffer.
Today Korean independence will mean not only life and happiness for us, but also Japan's
departure from an evil path and her exaltation to the place of true protector of the East so that
China too would put all fear of Japan aside. This thought comes from no minor resentment,
but from a large hope for the future welfare and blessings of mankind.
A new era wakes before our eyes, the old world of force is gone, and new world of righteousness and truth is here.
Out of the experience and travail of the old world arises this light on the affairs of life.
Insects stifled by their foe, the snows of winter are also awakened at this time of ear by the breezes of spring and
the warm light of the snow upon them.
It is the day of the restoration of all things, on the full tide of which we set forth without delay or fear.
We desire a full measure of satisfaction inthe way of life, liberty and the persuit of happiness, and anopportunity
to develop what is in us for th glory of our people. In this hope we go forward.
Injunctions to the Demonstrators
1. This work of ours is on behalf of truth, justice, and life, undertaken at the request of our people, in order to make
known their desire for liberty. Let no violence be done to anyone.
2. Let those who follow us show every hour with gladness this same spirit.
3. Let all things be done with singleness of purpose, so that our behavior to the very end may be honorable and upright.
Dated the 4252nd Year of the Kingdom of Korea, 3rd Month, 1st Day.
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