Pattern History - Joong-Gun Tul

Ahn Jung-Geun or An Jung-geun (September 2, 1879 – March 26, 1910; Baptismal name: Thomas) was a Korean independence activist, nationalist, and pan-Asianist. On October 26, 1909, he assassinated Itō Hirobumi, a four-time Prime Minister of Japan and former Resident-General of Korea, following the signing of the Eulsa Treaty, with Korea on the verge of annexation by Japan. Ahn was posthumously awarded the Republic of Korea Medal of Order of Merit for National Foundation in 1962 by the Korean Government, the most prestigious civil decoration in the Republic of Korea, for his efforts for Korean independence.

Early accounts

Ahn was born on September 2, 1879, in Haeju, Hwanghae-do, the first son of Ahn Tae-Hun (안태훈; 安泰勳) and Baek Cheon-Jo (백천조; 白川趙), of the family of the Sunheung Ahn (순흥안씨; 順興安氏) lineage. His childhood name was Ahn Eung-chil (안응칠; 安應七;  As a boy, he learned Chinese literature and Western sciences, but was more interested in martial arts and marksmanship. Kim Gu (김구; 金九), future leader of the Korean independence movement who had taken refuge in Ahn Tae-Hun's house at the time, wrote that young Ahn Jung-Geun was an excellent marksman, liked to read books, and had strong charisma. At the age of 25, he started a coal business, but devoted himself to education of Korean people after the Eulsa Treaty by establishing private schools in northwestern regions of Korea. In 1907 he exiled himself to Vladivostok to join in with the armed resistance against the Japanese colonial rulers. He was appointed a lieutenant general of an armed Korean resistance group and led several attacks against Japanese forces before his eventual defeat.


At the age of 16, Ahn entered the Catholic Church with his father, where he received his baptismal name "Thomas" (多默; 도마), and learned French. While fleeing from the Japanese, Ahn took refuge with a French priest of the Catholic Church in Korea named Wilhelm (Korean name, Hong Seok-ku; 홍석구; 洪錫九) who baptized and hid him in his church for several months. The priest encouraged Ahn to read the Bible and had a series of discussions with him. He maintained his belief in Catholicism until his death, going to the point of even asking his son to become a priest in his last letter to his wife.

Assassination of Ito Hirobumi

In 1909, Ahn passed the Japanese guards at the Harbin Railway Station. Ito Hirobumi had come back from negotiating with the Russian representative on the train. Ahn shot Ito three times with an FN M1900 pistol on the railway platform. He also shot Kawagami Toshihiko (川上俊彦), the Japanese Consul General, Morita Jiro (森泰二郞), a Secretary of Imperial Household Agency, and Tanaka Seitaro (田中淸太郞), an executive of South Manchuria Railway, who were seriously injured. After the shooting, Ahn yelled out for Korean independence in Russian, stating "Корея! Ура!", and waving the Korean flag. Afterwards, Ahn was arrested by Russian guards who held him for two days before turning him over to Japanese colonial authorities. When he heard the news that Ito had died, he made the sign of the cross in gratitude. Ahn was quoted as saying, "I have ventured to commit a serious crime, offering my life for my country. This is the behavior of a noble-minded patriot." Despite the orders from the Bishop of Korea not to administer the Sacraments to Ahn, Fr. Wilhelm disobeyed and went to Ahn to give the Last Sacraments. Ahn insisted that the captors call him by his baptismal name, Thomas. In the court, Ahn insisted that he be treated as a prisoner of war, as a lieutenant general of the Korean resistance army, instead of a criminal, and listed 15 crimes Ito had committed which convinced him to kill Ito.

15 reason why Ito Hirobumi should be killed.
  1. Assassinating the Korean Empress Myeongseong
  2. Dethroning the Emperor Gojong
  3. Forcing 14 unequal treaties on Korea.
  4. Massacring innocent Koreans
  5. Usurping the authority of the Korean government by force
  6. Plundering Korean railroads, mines, forests, and rivers
  7. Forcing the use of Japanese banknotes
  8. Disbanding the Korean armed forces
  9. Obstructing the education of Koreans
  10. Banning Koreans from studying abroad
  11. Confiscating and burning Korean textbooks
  12. Spreading a rumor around the world that Koreans wanted Japanese protection
  13. Deceiving the Japanese Emperor by saying that the relationship between Korea and Japan was peaceful when in truth it was full of hostility and conflicts
  14. Breaking the peace of Asia
  15. Assassinating the Emperor Komei.
"I, as a lieutenant general of the Korean resistance army, killed the criminal Ito Hirobumi because he disturbed the peace of the Orient and estranged the relationship between Korea and Japan. I hoped that if Korea and Japan be friendlier and are ruled peacefully, they would be a model all throughout the five continents. I did not kill Ito misunderstanding his intentions." - Ahn Joong Gun.

Imprisonment and death

Ahn's Japanese captors showed sympathy to him. He recorded in his autobiography that the public prosecutor, Mizobuchi Takao, exclaimed "From what you have told me, it is clear that you are a righteous man of East Asia. I can't believe a sentence of death will be imposed on a righteous man. There's nothing to worry about." He was also given New Year's delicacies and his calligraphy was highly admired and requested. After six trials, Ahn was sentenced to death by the Japanese colonial court in Ryojun (Port Arthur). Ahn was angered at the sentence, though he expected it. He had hoped to be viewed as a prisoner of war instead of an assassin. On the same day of sentencing at two o'clock in the afternoon, his two brothers Jeong-Geun and Gong-Geun met with him to deliver their mother's message, "Your death is for the sake of your country, and don't ask for your life cowardly. Your brave death for justice is a final filial regards to your mother."

Judge Hirashi, who presided over Ahn's trial, had promised Ahn that a stay of execution for at least a few months would be granted, but Tokyo ordered prompt action. Prior to his execution, Ahn made two final requests; that the wardens help him finish his essay, "On Peace in East Asia", and for a set of white silk Korean clothes to die in. The warden was able to grant the second request and resigned shortly afterwards. Ahn requested to be executed as a prisoner of war, by firing squad. But instead it was ordered that he should be hanged as a common criminal. The execution took place in Ryojun, on March 26, 1910. His grave in Harbin hasn't been found.
Above: Ahn Joong Gun
Above: Mr. Doogan and Mr. Raukura at the Ahn Joong Gun Memorial Hall, Jung-Gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Above: Bronze statue of Ahn Joong Gun, depicting his sprint down the railway platform before assassinating Hiro Bumi Ito.
Above: Newspaper article reporting on Ito's death.
Above: Ahn and his loyal compatriots severed their ring fingers to swear an oath of sacrifice. Declaring their unwavering determination to restore Korean Independence from the Japanese.
Above: Centre three - Mr. Raukura, Mrs. Young and Mr. Doogan, with other participants of the 2015 Tul Tour. Ahn Joong Gun Memorial Statue, Jung-Gu, South Korea.