China to unveil monument honoring Korean independence fighters: sources

XIAN, China, May 11 (Yonhap) -- In another slap in the face of Japan, China plans to set up a stone monument later this month honoring old Korean soldiers who fought for their peninsula's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule, multiple sources said Sunday.

China earlier this year had dedicated a memorial to a prominent Korean independence hero, Ahn Jung-geun, who assassinated the Korean Peninsula's first Japanese governor-general, Hirobumi Ito, in its northeastern city of Harbin in October 1909.

Japan had reacted angrily to the Ahn memorial, calling him a terrorist.

In a similar move that is certain to anger Japan again, China is pushing to set up the commemorative stone monument in its ancient city of Xian where the Korean independence fighters were based, two diplomatic sources said.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye had requested China to build the Ahn memorial and the stone monument during her meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in June last year. Reports at that time said Xi had accepted Park's request.

As far as their shared history is concerned, South Korea and China have much in common. Both suffered under Japan's imperialistic aggression in the early part of the 20th century that included World War II.

"Preparations to unveil the monument have been completed," a diplomatic source in Xian said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "An opening ceremony would be held later this month with government officials from the two nations attending."

Another diplomatic source said the opening ceremony is likely to be held on May 22, disclosing that the monument will be set up along with a three-meter-high pavilion at the Duquzhen of Changan district in Xian, where the Korean independence fighters were stationed in 1942.

The monument will have inscriptions in both Korean and Chinese confirming that the site was the main base of the Korean Liberation Army and reaffirming friendship between the two countries, the sources said.

China has recently been in lockstep with South Korea in its policy toward Japan. Both have been vocal against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit and tribute to a controversial shrine in Tokyo that honors 14 Class A war criminals.

Tokyo's relations with its neighbors, especially with Beijing and Seoul, have plunged to one of their lowest points in many years over their shared history and territorial disputes.

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