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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Historical site of the March 1 Independence Movement is safely preserved

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The yard of the former headquarters building (Danso) of Hung Sa Dahn, which was neatly cleaned on the 1st. At the time of the demolition crisis in 2021, the yard was full of building materials and garbage. BY KIM SANG-JIN.

The South Korean government purchased the old headquarters building (Danso) of Hung Sa Dahn, which was on the verge of demolition due to real estate redevelopment.

The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said on the 2nd (Korea Standard Time), “We signed off on the final purchase contract of Danso to prevent the demolition process, and successfully preserved the historic site of the Japanese colonial period as well as the March 1 Independence Movement.

Seo Kyung-won, chairman of Hung Sa Dahn America, said on the 1st, “The purchase price was $2.95 million.”

This is the first time that the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs has purchased any kind of real estate to preserve a historic site of an independence movement on international lands.

“The preservation of Danso is a successful win made by the Korean community, civic groups, and the Korean government. We will work to characterize the building as a living historical site and educational institution that not only Koreans but also locals like to visit, and also use the building as a base for memorializing the March 1 Independence Movement.” said Park Min-sik from The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

The Korean government’s purchase of Danso began when Hung Sa Dahn America petitioned the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs in June last year.

Earlier in May 2021, JoongAng Ilbo first reported that “the base site of the March 1 Independence Movement is on the verge of being sold due to an interested real estate development company amid the indifference of Hung Sa Dahn and the Korean government.”

Chairman Seo Kyung-won said, “The public hearing to designate the building as a historic site was repeatedly getting postponed, and we were not financially able to purchase the headquarters building. So, we asked the Korean government for help because we could not risk the chance to designate it as a historical site as well as lose the whole building to a real estate development company.”

On July 15, 2021, Hong Myung-ki, the late president of the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho Memorial Association (from the left in the front row), Yoon Hyo-shin, chairman of the KNA Memorial Foundation, and Seo Kyung-won, chairman of Hung Sa Dahn America, attended the Danso’s public hearing at the Korean People’s Hall. BY KIM SANG-JIN.

In the meantime, efforts have been made to protect Danso in the Korean community. In 2020, a Chinese real estate development company (Tripa Link) tried to purchase and demolish Danso, saying it would redevelop it. In response, the Hung Sa Dahn, the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho Memorial Association, and the KNA Memorial Foundation formed a committee together to preserve Danso. Since then, the demolition process has been put on hold as they requested the city of LA for designation of Danso as a historic site.

Since then, real estate development companies responded legally through law firms, and the third public hearing was being postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic. This raised concerns in the Korean community over the possibility of demolition of the building as well as failing to designate it as a historic site.

The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said, “We are aiming to open it on Korean Independence Day in 2025 after completing construction..” There are still challenges left. Specific discussions need to be made regarding city, state, and federal registration of historical sites, refurbishment plans, and building utilization plans. In addition, Hung Sa Dahn America has raised $1.1 million in compensation for independent public bonds, and it is also important to plan on how to utilize this fund in the future.

Lee Ki-wook, head of Hung Sa Dahn LA Division, said, “Hung Sa Dahn will actively cooperate in the future, and we will do our best to help prevent unfavorable situations in the management of Danso.”

Danso is located on Catalina Street (3421 S. Catalina St) near Koreatown, LA. The building was prepared by members of Hung Sa Dahn in 1932 and was a headquarter that was used to discuss financial support and education during the March 1 Independence Movement until liberation.

BY JANG YEOL [jang.yeol@koreadaily.com]