Ahn Junggeun (安重根, 안중근, 1879-1910) was a Korean independence activist and a pan-Asianist. He was of the Sunheung Ahn Clan (順興安氏, 순흥안씨); his childhood name (兒名, 아명) was Chil’eung (七膺, 칠응), meaning “seven chests,” because he had seven spots on his chest and stomach when he was born; and his baptismal name (本名, 본명 or 洗禮名, 세례명) was Thomas, or Doma (多默, 도마). At the age of 16 in 1895, following his father, he was baptized into the Catholic Church. In 1906, in response to the Japanese Protectorate Treaty of 1905 (乙巳條約, 을사조약), he established schools and participated in the independence education movement. In 1907, however, he decided that Korea could not regain independence through lawful and peaceful means and joined an irregular army in the Maritime Province of Siberia, Russia. In 1909, he and 11 fellow Korean independence activists formed a group, to which he asseverated and gave an oath by cutting off a finger joint (同義斷指會, 동의단지회). On October 26, 1909, he went to Harbin, China and assassinated Ito Hirobumi (伊藤 博文, 이등박문/이토 히로부리, 1841-1909), the first Resident-General of Korea. He was quickly apprehended on the spot, and later tried and executed on March 26, 1910. Although the Korean Catholic hierarchy wishing to not antagonize the Japanese colonial administration denounced his actions, Ahn Junggeun maintained his Catholic faith throughout his life and from jail urged his son to join the priesthood, who unfortunately passed away at a premature age. He also wrote a number of works in Classical Chinese. During his imprisonment, he composed calligraphy and an essay called Peace in East Asia (東洋平和論, 동양평화론). He also wrote the poem below on the very night before he assassinated Ito Hirobumi.
A Heroic Man’s Song
A man has been placed on this earth; his volition is great.
The times create the hero; the hero creates the times.
Mature • man • to be placed • world • particle • third person demonstrative • will • great • particle
Times • to create • glorious • hero • particle • glorious • hero • to create • times
Gazing down below the heavens, on what day will the work be achieved?
The easterly wind grows cold; the strong man’s cause becomes fiery.
Courageously • to gaze • heaven • below • particle • what • day • to achieve • work
East • wind • gradually • cold • particle • splendid • man • cause • fiery
The indignation once gone, must achieve its objective.
To the ratlike thief Ito Hirobumi, how can you joyfully compare yourself to life?
Anger • anger • once • to depart • particle • certainly • to achieve • objective • goal
Rat • thief • [name] • [name] • particle • how • joyously • to compare • life
How can you now arrive here? The situation of affairs is like so.
O, dear countrymen, dear countrymen! The grand undertaking will soon be achieved!
How • hereupon • to arrive • here • particle • affairs • situation • indeed • so
Same • siblings • same siblings • particle • quickly • to achieve • grand • work
Long live, long live, Korean independence!
Long live, long live, Korean countrymen!
ten-thousand • years • ten-thousand • years • particle • great • Korea • alone • to stand
ten-thousand • years • ten-thousand • years • particle • great • Korea • same • siblings
- An alternate name for this poem is the “Song of Harbin” (哈爾濱歌, 합이빈가).