Yonhap News TV, September 4, 2019, The Deungdaesa Incident—First Case of Conscientious Objection Unveiled
The Deungdaesa Incident, the nation’s first case of conscientious objection to military service, has been unveiled.
An exhibition commemorating the 80th anniversary of the ‘Deungdaesa Incident’ is being held at Seodaemun Prison, and it contains a painful history that occurred under Japanese colonial rule.
Jeong Sun-mi reports.
The Deungdaesa Incident involves a series of events that occurred in 1939, when Jehovah’s Witnesses—called Deungdaesawon, the Lighthouse Society people, at the time—were imprisoned for their refusal to participate in emperor worship and military activities.
At least 66 people, charged between 1939 and 1941 with violating the Maintenance of Public Order Act and the lese majesty law, spent on average more than four years in prison. Six died in prison.
<Chung Un-yeong, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society>
The number of arrests in Korea was thought to have been 38, but a review of the 6,000-page record from the prosecutor’s office revealed that the number was actually 66.
Jehovah’s Witnesses point out that the Deungdaesa Incident occurred purely because of their religious beliefs, which required them not to kill humans. But the case was recorded as an anti-Japanese movement in History of the Korean Independence Movement, compiled by the government.
<Han Hong-gu, professor at SungKongHoe (Anglican) University>
“I think it is and at the same time, is not an independence movement. They did not consciously carry out a political independence movement. But they were the people that Japanese imperialism feared the most. If the purpose of an independence movement is to break down Japanese imperial rule in this land, then the shoe fits.”
The exhibition commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Deungdaesa Incident and embodying the spirit of anti-Japanese struggle is being held until the 28th at the History Hall of Seodaemun Prison in Seoul.
This is Yonhap News TV, Jeong Sun-mi.