Kim Koo Museum & Library

A history museum that focuses on the modern history of Korea
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People's Nation

If God asked me what was my wish, I would reply unhesitatingly,
"Korean independence."
If He asked me what was my next wish, I would again answer,
"Our nation's independence."
If He asked me the same question for the third time, I would reply in an even louder voice,
"My wish is our Great Korean Nation's Complete Independence."
My dear compatriots!
I, Kim Koo, have but this one wish. I lived the past 70 years of my life because of this one wish, and even now I am living my present life for this one wish. In the future, I will also live in order to fulfill this one wish.

As a man belonging to a nation that has lost its independence, I lived the seventy years of my life in much shame, sorrow, and trouble. The best thing that can happen to me in this world, therefore, is to die after having experienced a life as a citizen of a nation that has achieved its complete independence. Earlier, I had desired to become a gatekeeper of our independent government. This was an expression of my feeling that I would gladly become the humblest person in society if our country became an independent nation. This is because living a humble life in one's own independent nation is happier, more glorious and more hopeful than living a life of luxury under someone else's rule in another nation. In former times, Park Je-sang, when he went to Japan, declared, "I would rather become a pig in Korea than live a comfortable life as a retainer of the Japanese king."

I know that these words conveyed his genuine sentiments. Despite the Japanese king's offer of a high government post and much wealth, Je-sang gladly chose death instead. This was because of his conviction expressed in the following words of his,

"I would rather become a ghost of my nation." Recently, I heard that some among our people wish that our nation would give up its sovereignty and join a large neighboring country as a part of its federation. Not only do I not believe this but, if people who say such things do indeed exist, I can only regard them as lunatics who have lost their minds.
I have learned the teachings of Confucius, Buddha, and Jesus, and I do admire them as saints. However, even if there exist a utopian nation established by joint efforts of all these saints, I would not drag our people into that nation. This is because that nation was not founded by our people. As you well know, nations of people who share the same blood and the same history do clearly exist in this world. Just as my body cannot become another's body, one people cannot become another people, in the same way that even brothers sharing the same blood find it difficult to live together in the same house. When more than two join together to become one, there always arises the fundamental problem of authority and hierarchy. One party must stand above the other and give orders while the other must stand below and accept the orders.

In speaking of this, some on the so-called left deny their motherland formed by blood and advocate the so-called motherland founded by common ideology. These ignore their blood compatriots and advocate the so-called comrades of the same ideology and the so-called international class of the proletariat. These people dismiss nationalism as an outmoded idea that has already fallen way out of the realm of truth. How foolish these people are! Though philosophies, political ideologies, economic theories all change and are only temporary, the blood lineage of a people is eternal.

Throughout history, there has never been a nation that has not experienced internal divisions and bloodshed because of conflicts arising from religious, ideological, economic or political differences. However, after the passage of time, all these conflicts are but temporary phenomena just like wind that blows and passes away. But, a people sharing the same blood is like the grass and trees that, after the wind calms down, still remain in their place and form a single forest with their roots and branches linked to one another. We should not forget that what we today call the so-called right and left are but temporary waves and tempests that arise in the eternal sea of common blood lineage.
So, all ideologies and religions change. Only the people of the same blood lineage exist on this earth as a body and a community bound eternally by the same shared destiny of collective rise and decline.

It is humanity's highest and last hope and ideal that all of humanity become one household and live together in unity and harmony without conflict. This, however, is something that can be hoped for in the distant future and not something that can be realistically achieved today. It is only good and imperative that people all over the world strive for improvement and progress leading towards this grand and beautiful goal of the universal brotherhood of mankind. But, even in striving for this, one should not depart from reality. The truth of the present reality is that each people form the best possible nation of their own and give birth to and nurture the highest possible culture of their own. After this, nations can exchange what they have with one another and so live in mutual cooperation with one another. This is the democracy in which I believe, and this is the most certain and valid truth in the present stage of human history.

Therefore, the work of the highest priority which our people need to perform is the establishment of a completely sovereign nation that is not in any way subservient to or dependent on other nations. Without achieving this goal, we cannot guarantee the livelihood of our people, and we cannot establish a culture which will allow our people to freely express their mental and spiritual energies to their fullest. After founding a fully independent nation in this fashion, the second mandate of our people is to give birth to an ideology which will enable mankind to experience true peace and happiness and to realize such a society first in our nation.

I know that the present culture of humanity is unstable. Within every nation, there political, economic and social inequality and irrationality. In the international arena, there is no end to jealousies, strife, invasions and counter-invasions among nations and peoples that cause wars and much sacrifice of life and property. The result of these wars, however, is not good news. They create even more fear in people's hearts and further moral degradation. In the present conditions, these will eventually lead to the end of all mankind. Thus, it became necessary for humanity to discover new principles of life and to lead lives based on these new principles. I believe it is a mandate given to our people by Heaven that we should help humanity find its way along this path.
In the light of this, our people's independence is definitely not just the business of our thirty million people but, rather, an enterprise of grander proportions involving the fate of the entire world. Working for our nation's independence, therefore, is ipso facto working for the future of humanity.
If, looking at our present shabby state, we indulge in self-deprecation and doubt that the nation we establish will ever accomplish something so great, we are doing nothing but insulting ourselves. Our people's history was definitely not inglorious. But, this is only an overture to something much greater. The time when we will stand as main actors on the world stage lies in the future. How can we doubt that out thirty million people will not be able to do what the ancient Greeks or Romans did?

The enterprise of our people which I desire is certainly not that of conquering the world by force or by economic power. What I am proposing is that we do that which will lead to a world in which we ourselves live abundantly and in which humanity as a whole lives in abundance, peace, and happiness. This world will come true only by establishing a culture of love and peace. Do not say that this is a pipe dream because no people in history has ever done something like this in the past. My point is that we should do this precisely because nobody has ever done this in the past. Only when we realize that this great enterprise has been left undone by Heaven for us to fulfill, can our people recognize their true path and their true tasks.

I hope that our nation's young people, both male and female, will abandon the small and narrow thoughts of the past and become conscious of our people's great mission so that they will make it their joy of life to cultivate their minds and to increase their strengths. If all our young people exert their efforts in this direction with this spirit, I am sure that, within 30 years, our people will have become great beyond all recognition.