On September 9, the head of the Seongbuk district announced that the official name of what is known as Inchonno is planning to change. The project is significant in the sense that the name “Inchon” has been acceding the pen name of Kim Sung Soo. Since “Inchon Kim Sung Soo” was confirmed as one of the pro-Japanese collaborators, Korea University (KU) students and local residents have been demanding a renaming for buildings and roads that were named after him. With the long-standing requests finally carried out into implementation, the renaming advances towards the statue and building located on the campus of KU.
Inchonno is a road that takes possession of 1.2 kilometers in the Seongbuk district, covering subway line six from Bomun Station to Anam Station. Since the government designated the title from 2010, 190 roads and 1527 buildings have been entitled to this name. However, the name is strongly proposed to be altered as an operation to clear up the pro-Japanese settlement. Last year, the Supreme Court made the final judgment of admitting the pro-Japanese acts of Kim and it further led to the recantation of the Order of Merit for National Foundation, which clearly demonstrated the pro-Japanese activities.
Although road names do not grab much attention for the majority, the intention to change the official name carries significance in that it clears away the vestiges of Japanese imperialism. The Seongbuk district is particularly aware since it has been the vital area for anti-Japanese movement as numerous independent activists have lived in the region. For substitution of the current sign, names that reflect the region’s feature are mentioned for further discussion. Although the transition may sound as simple as it is, it is a much complex process as announcements need to be made by issuing street signs and collecting the opinions of the Seongbuk district inhabitants. Every local resident, foreigner, and business operator who use the road name address Inchonno needs to be taken into consideration and earn the majority assent.
This occasion is also significant towards KU, as students held demonstrations against the statue of Kim Sung Soo last semester. It was demanded to demolish the statue in order to clear up the remains of pro-Japanese collaborators and cease the implications of respect towards the figure. However, at the time, the university did not take any particular stance, and there wasn’t any in-depth discussion regarding the issue. Reflecting the current status and movement of changing the road name Inchonno, further suggestions and deliberation of the status about the Kim Sung Soo statue and the Inchon Memorial Hall is necessary to get upon examination.
Despite the complexity of the process, the renaming of Inchonno is vital in regards to adjusting the misuse of the designation. The process of wiping out traces of Pro-Japanese activists is an urgent step to take as the past history should be properly conceived in the current generation. Contrasting to this meaningful transition, the current state in KU is yet without light and shade. As there were not many notable advances in the past regarding the statue and name of the building, additional movements are hopefully to take action and call over ideal changes within the university.
▲ The current figure of Inchonno. PHOTOGRAPHED BY LEE JAE EUN