Veterans ministry vows to prepare heart-touching programs for 80th liberation anniv. next year

SEOUL, The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Korean independence from the Japanese colonial rule next year with programs that can touch people's hearts, its chief said Wednesday. Veterans Minister Kang Jung-ai said the ministry will mull ways to better honor and remember patriots who fought to liberate Korea from 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule. "To honor and remember the noble spirit of those who sacrificed their lives for the country's independence, the ministry will prepare commemorative events that can deeply resonate with the people," Kang said in a meeting with reporters. Kang, a daughter of a Korean War veteran and the wife of a husband whose several family members are independence fighters, took office last month. The minister pledged to push for veterans policies in a way that integrates people from all walks of life, seemingly taking a different path from her outspoken, divisive predecessor, Park Min-sik. "Veterans affairs should not be a sub ject of division in the nation's unity. There should be no left or right in veterans affairs," she said. Park stirred controversies with conflicting assessments of well-known historic figures, including independence fighter Hong Beom-do (1868-1943) and the country's first President Rhee Syng-man (1875-1965). Revered independence fighter Hong became the subject of the ideological dispute last year after the defense ministry and the Korea Military Academy attempted to relocate his busts from their compounds in Seoul, citing his past record of collaborating with Soviet forces. The ministry also faced controversy over its selection of the country's first President Rhee, a divisive figure over his 12-year authoritarian rule, as January's independence activist of the month. Rhee's supporters credit him for laying the foundation for a free democracy, while critics accuse him of being a dictator during his rule before he was ousted after a pro-democracy civil uprising in 1960. Source: Yonhap News Agency