Korean Provisional Government’s independence activities heralded in Oceania 100 years ago

The Korean independence activities orchestrated by the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea were extensively heralded to Australia and New Zealand, according to a study by the National Unification Advisory Council, ASEAN Assembly. 

The organisation has initiated the research to mark the centennial of the March 1 Independence Movement and the establishment of the provisional Government in Shanghai in order to trace back the region’s any reactions to or awareness of Korea rising up against Japanese colonial rule. 

“Independence of Korea”, “Korea and Koreans”, “Emperor’s escape: Attempted Assassination”, “Rising in Korea, The Fight for Freedom”, “Japanese in Korea: Policy of Assimilation…Sever rule alleged”, “Discontent in Korea: Agitation renewed…Business suspended”, “Crushed Korea…Hopes of Freedom”, “Japan in Korea…Imperialistic Military Dominance”, and “Mixture of Czarist Russia and Germany…The Korean Language a Crime”, and so on. 

These were the headlines of major newspapers in Australia and New Zealand in 1919 in the wake of the Korean independence movement and the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.

Even the contribution to an American daily newspaper by Dr Syngman Rhee, the Secretary of State under the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea later becoming the first President of South Korea to appeal to American people for their support for the Korean independence was reproduced in the Australian Worker in July 1919. 

Also the Sydney Morning Herald reported in the year that “Korea’s hope of independence is cherished albeit Japanese oppression, referring Kore to ‘the Land of Morning Calm’.  

Earlier, most of the mainstream papers around the nation including the Sydney Morning Herald, the AGE and the Daily Telegraph covered the Korea’s historic event of the breakout of the independence movement, with the slightly different angles on the movement. 

Some newspapers described the Korea’s nationwide upheaval as ‘disturbance, unrest, trouble, agitation, disorder, riot, revolt, rising’, meanwhile most used the term of ‘Korea’s independence movement against Japanese rule. 

Surprisingly, the regional newspapers such as Border Morning Mall and Riverina Times(1903-1920) in Albury NSW, Daily Observer(1917-1920) in Tamworth, the Maitland Daily Mercury(1834-1939) and the Auckland Star(1870-1945) in New Zealand were the very first media outlets to herald the tipping point towards the Korean independence from Japanese annihilation. 

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