When the Korean Empire was deprived of its sovereign power by Japan in September 1910, Japan took control of the government and dominated us. Although we have tried to clear away the remnants of Japan’s colonial rule after our independence, they left a huge mark on our country in verbal, cultural, and historical ways which are very close to our daily lives. Unfortunately, it is also true in Daegu. Most of us don’t realize that lots of remnants of Japanese imperialism are still alive in Daegu, and some of them have to be reconsidered or even removed.
Dalseong Park, especially famous for the zoo, is a good example. This place had never been a park before Japan’s colonial rule. In fact, its real name was Dalseong Fortress, which was a government office of Daegu. This means that Dalseong Fortress was the heart of Daegu in politics, economy, and culture. However, Japan changed the place into a park as part of a policy of “civilization” in 1905, to wipe out the historical consciousness of our nation. Japan turned the time-honored military facility, which had served as a hub of our national defense for more than 1,700 years, into a park for entertainment.
In addition, Dalseong Fortress was the place where the Korean Liberation Association, which is considered the most active group against Japan in the 1910s, was established. However, there are no signs in the park that tell about its history. As a result, people have forgotten both the painful history of the place and the achievements of their ancestors. In fact, the South Korean government cannot avoid responsibility for this. In 1970, the government set up a zoo on the grounds to modernize Dalseong Park, but did not eliminate the remnants of Japan. Now, we have to restore its original name and highlight the fact that this is the holy place of the independence movement.
Of course, Dalseong Fortress is not the only place that is a disgrace to the national prestige. Suseong lake, also a well-known place in Daegu, was made by the Japanese government. They raised water with money stolen from the Korean people, and again collected water taxes from Korean farmers. In addition, Bongmu-dong has a cave made by Korean labors during the Japanese occupation. A sign posted there says,̒This is where the site of the Japanese invasion remains, and it should not be repeated again.̓
Furthermore, lots of Daegu citizens have tried to reinstate place names in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province that were corrupted during the Japanese occupation. The Daegu Metropolitan Government, government agencies, and primary local authorities are taking a step toward cleaning up the remains of Japan. They are making a thorough investigation on the place names that were changed during the Japanese occupation and trying to finish the investigation by the end of this year.
These kinds of movements are clearly to re-claim our history and culture from Japan. As citizens of Daegu, we need to think over the vestiges of Japanese imperialism, and should not forget our painful history and our ancestors.