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PM: Korea's roots date back to 1919 establishment of provisional gov't

All Headlines 11:52 April 13, 2018

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon reiterated Friday that the Republic of Korea roots date back to the 1919 establishment of the government-in-exile in China during Japanese colonial rule, amid a debate about the actual date of South Korea's national foundation.

Lee made the remark during a ceremony marking the 99th anniversary of the provisional government's founding in the Chinese city of Shanghai, saying it is the provisional government that decided the country's name, national flag, anthem and political system and established the armed forces.

"It is extremely natural that our Constitution states in its first sentence that the Republic of Korea inherits the legitimacy of the provisional government," Lee said during the ceremony held at a memorial hall set up in honor of independence fighter Kim Koo.

President Moon Jae-in has expressed similar views, saying he considers 2019 the nation's centennial. That perspective breaks from the long-running idea among conservatives that the country was founded in 1948 after Korea's 1945 liberation from colonial rule and subsequent division into the communist North and capitalist South.

Lee said that all Koreans are indebted to independence fighters who gave up their lives and fortunes for national liberation and that overcoming the national division and realizing reunification is one way to pay back part of the debt.

"After a touch-and-go confrontation, an opportunity for inter-Korean talks has barely opened on the Korean Peninsula," Lee said. "I earnestly hope to see peaceful unification realized by removing North Korea's nuclear program and bringing permanent peace to the Korean Peninsula."

Lee also said the government is working to build a memorial hall in honor of the provisional government and will work harder toward further researching the history of the independence movement and provisional government.

Lee said the government will also change the anniversary of the provisional government's founding to April 11 from the current April 13 in accordance with suggestions from historians.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon speaks during a ceremony in Seoul on April 13, 2018, to mark the 99th anniversary of the 1919 establishment of Korea's provisional government. (Yonhap)

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