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Title 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Woodang Lee Hoe-yeing / 2017.04.21
Date 2017-04-03

Woodang Lee Hoe-yeong (Mar. 17, 1867 - Nov. 17, 1932) was a Korean nationalist who played an active role in the Korean independence movement outside Korea. He is remembered as an exemplary figure of noblesse oblige. Korea Post is issuing a commemorative stamp to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth.  

Woodang was born into the renowned noble family of Baeksa Lee Hang-bok. Generations of ancestors from his family had been appointed as high-ranking government officials. He was open-minded and had the perspective of a pioneer. He helped the Independence Club launch a campaign for public education in 1898 and staged a campaign against the Eulsa Treaty (Japan-Korea Protectorate Treaty coerced by Imperial Japan) in 1905. After the Treaty was signed, he conspired in the assassination of the Five Eulsa Traitors. He also played a role in the establishment of Seojeonseosuk, Koreas first modern educational institution for Korean youth in Manchuria. In 1906, Woodang became an original member of Sinminhoe (New Peoples Association), which served as a foundation for the Korean enlightenment campaign and armed independence movement, and led the effort to dispatch special emissaries to the Hague Peace Convention.  

Determined to build a base for the fight against Japanese rule, Woodang and his five brothers sold all of their assets, worth 60 billion Korean won in todays money, following the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty in 1910, and fled to Manchuria with their families. In 1911, he organized Gyeonghaksa to assist the settlement of Korean refugees in the region and to teach them farming, and founded the Sinheung Military Academy, an institute designed to foster leaders of the Korean independence movement, thereby playing a critical role in the fight against Japanese rule.  

In 1918, Woodang secretly entered Korea to plan the exile of Emperor Gojong, but the emperor suffered an untimely death. He then fled to Beijing and took part in the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai. However, after witnessing factional strife and division within the Provisional Government, he returned to Beijing with Sin Chae-ho, organized the Joseon Anarchist Federation, and launched an anarchistic independence movement. Following the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria in 1931, he called on and gathered comrades from all over China to form the Alliance of Anti-Japanese Resistance. He contacted the Chinese Nationalist Party in 1932 and was promised funds and weapons. In November of the same year, he was unfortunately arrested when the news of his secret trip to Dalian from Shanghai to supervise the Korea-China Joint Anti-Japanese Revolution was leaked. He died at the age of 65 in prison as a result of severe torture.  

Korea Post hopes that people will remember the noble spirit of Woodang Lee Hoe-yeong, a descendant of a renowned family who dedicated himself wholly to the freedom of his country and ultimately gave up his life.


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