Los Angeles, CAJuly 23, 2008: My name is Philip Cuddy and I am the grandson of Dosan Ahn Chang Ho. Korean and Korean American history activities in the United States need to be properly presented to the public and preserved to tell the story of the fight against Japanese Occupation of Korea as well as more modern day history ACCUARETLY with ACCOUNTABILITY.
I challenge any one or all of these organizations to a public debate regarding the honoring of Syngman Rhee under the name of the KNA. It is not proper history.
The upcoming KCCLA seminar on July 25th and following exhibit honoring Korean Patriots under the guise of the 100 Year Anniversary of the KNA is a manufactured history not an actual accounting of the situation in the early days of the Korean American community’s Independence Movement. It is shameful to twist history and give the public a distorted view of what actually took place.
The local organizations and Korean government offices involved in the July event should know history and not make it up to suit their needs. When you examine the list of Patriotic Awards, Syngman Rhee gave the award to himself in 1949. He is the only one to do this. Many patriots on this list of 92 suffered from Rhee’s dishonesty. The story of Syngman Rhee’s KNA agitation follows. This is an example of the wrong information being presented. It should absolutely not be done under the veil of the KNA story. Syngman Rhee was a criminal and the worst person to become President of Korea. He is one of the main reasons Korea is divided today.
How could these people and mostly any Hungsadan people (since they are supposed to be an organization that upholds the truth and educates young leaders) support this manipulation of history? It appears they don’t know anything about history. This is the Korean American Centennial warped distortion of our history all over again.
Syngman Rhee should not be honored at the KCCLA exhibit under the umbrella of the KNA 100 Year Anniversary or at the KNA Memorial Hall. Rhee was an authoritarian dictator not a statesman and used the patriotic disguise to create a mythical hero status. This is a shameful day for Korean National Association and Korean American history.
The is just one example of the problems with these groups and this event. I will publicly debate any of these people involved with the KCCLA event to get the truth to the people.
Syngman Rhee’s Dispute with the Korean National Assn and United Korean Committee
Considering the historical record of the serious problems Syngman Rhee caused for the KNA and the UKC, it would be politically incorrect and disrespectful to the people of these organizations who are memorialized in the exhibits if any recognition of Syngman Rhee as an honorable person were to appear in the KNA Memorial Hall at any time.
Throughout the period of the Korean Independence Movement Syngman Rhee had disruptive disputes with the Korean National Association and the United Korean Committee. These disputes, both ethical and financial, adversely affected the efforts to free Korea from the Japanese Imperialist during the Colonial Period of Korean history. These disputes were detrimental to the unity needed for the success of the Movement.
Rhee purposefully complicated the already difficult lives of many Korean patriots. Rhee’s disputes divided the Korean community and weakened the effectiveness of many organizations he had contact with. Rhee’s history after 1945 is similarly full of corruption and controversy.
Syngman Rhee can be considered an anti-Korean National Association person who would try anything to interfere with the success of this organization. He falsely accused this democratic group of being a Bolshevik Communist organization. His disruptive methods can be seen in his efforts to have Ahn Chang Ho arrested by reporting the bogus Bolshevik story about Ahn, the KNA and the Hung Sa Dan to the United States Government in 1924. (See the documents.) He falsely accused Ahn Chang Ho, Kim Kyu Sik, and Pak Yong Man of being communists.
Another piece of evidence of Rhee problematic leadership and negative impact can be seen in the memo from the UKC regarding Rhee’s actions. (See the documents.)
Rhee’s habit for creating conflict hindered the Independence Movement activities of the KNA and the UKC.
A brief list of the early disputes with the KNA:
1913 – Rhee arrives in Hawaii to work for the MethodistChurch. Soon after his arrival he requests Hawaii Branch of the KNA for funds to build a dormitory for students of the Central Institute which he operated. In 1915 the annual KNA Conference turned down this idea. The friction between Rhee and the KNA began. Rhee’s real frustration was his competition with the KNA for raising Korean community funds to finance projects in that community. Rhee’s ideas were not in accord with KNA policies. Rhee was unhappy with the strong position the KNA established in the Hawaiian community. Rhee motivated people to disengage themselves from the KNA. Rhee took a stance against the KNA’s Pak Yong Man. Rhee accused the KNA of corruption and some members of embezzlement of KNA funds. Rhee instigated a physical fight during a KNA meeting. Rhee had KNA President Kim Chong Hak arrested in May on charges of embezzlement. Kim was acquitted in September after an ugly trial in the courts of Hawaii. Rhee used the confusion and conflict he started to get people in Hawaii to send him funds and not the KNA.
1915 – Pak Yong Man could not stop the destructive process started by Syngman Rhee with the Hawaii KNA. Pak was overwhelmed by Rhee’s agitation. Pak leaves Hawaii for San Francisco and is installed as Vice-President of the Central Congress of the KNA. Dosan had been elected as President. In order to unify the Korean community in Hawaii, Dosan traveled to Hawaii arriving on August 31, 1915. Dosan proceeded to visit members of the Korean community and give speeches in hopes of unifying the people in Hawaii and restore harmony allowing the community to focus on the Independence Movement. While Dosan was there Kim Chong Hak seriously affected by Syngman Rhee’s embezzlement accusations attempted suicide on September 15th by shooting himself in the mouth. Dosan made a serious attempt to right the wrongs of Syngman Rhee attempting gain the trust of people in Hawaii for the KNA. He visited almost every Korean throughout the islands. On December 15th he departed for San Francisco.
The dispute between Syngman Rhee and Pak Yong Man was settled for a brief period after Dosan went to Hawaii. In 1917, Dosan went to the Yucatan in Mexico to check on the Koreans who had been working under harsh conditions in Merida. Pak had returned to Hawaii to be the editor of the Kungminbo. Rhee and his faction in Hawaii revived their dispute. This time Pak distanced himself from the KNA. Without Pak’s leadership of the KNA, Rhee became a more dominant figure in Hawaii. During this time Rhee was accused of embezzling KNA funds. During court trials in 1918 a fight broke out between Rhee followers and KNA people. The Honolulu Police had to be called in. After this incident Pak completely withdrew from the KNA. When Dosan returned from a difficult trip to Mexico he faced the conflict and violent quarrels in Hawaii now between Rhee’s group and Pak’s group (the Yeonhaphoe) and the KNA.
The KNA meets and plans to send a petition for Independence from Japan to the Paris Peace Conference. Three representatives should go to WashingtonDC and then to New York to attend the second conference of the League of Small and Subject Nationalities. The representatives were Min Chan Ho, Henry Chung and Rhee. Rhee was selected due to his relationship with President Woodrow Wilson.
Henry Chung and Rhee were selected to attend the Paris Peace Conference. Rhee did not show up for any of the KNA meetings in January of 1918 preparing the positions for the Conference. Rhee’s connections in WashingtonDC failed to secure passage for the delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. Dosan asked Rhee to take the delegates to approach President Wilson upon his return from Paris in February for his help. Rhee had taken it upon himself to state Korea should be placed in a trustee relationship under a mandate arrangement rather than complete independence. This act created a lack of trust in Rhee by many Independence leaders.
March 1st, 1919 – March First Uprising takes place drastically changing all previous KNA and Independence Movement Plans. On March 13th Dosan made a speech asking people to forget all the disputes between KNA, Ahn and Rhee and Pak.
March 15th – Central Congress of the KNA passes 13 official policies. #5 appointed Soh Jae Pil as Foreign Affairs Advisor and to establish a bureau in Philadelphia. #9 appoints Syngman Rhee as Soh’s assistant. Rhee developed a problem with Soh’s method of leadership and carried it on into the future.
April 5, 1919 – Dosan leaves Los Angles for Shanghai to join the Provisional Government. Rhee is selected to be the Premier or Chief Executive by two groups organizing governments in exile. Rhee did not show up immediately to take his position in Shanghai. Many people in Shanghai were not confident in Rhee’s leadership. On June 25th, 1919 Dosan gave a speech in Shanghai requesting people to support Rhee’s leadership.
Rhee proclaims himself “President” of the Provisional Government. This use of the title was unapproved by the Cabinet in Shanghai and the Korean National Association in America. Rhee insisted on his use of President instead of Chairman as the group had determined. His egotistical need to place himself on the same level as presidents of other nations was the rational. His actions did not represent a democratic way of organizing a government. This was just the start of his ploy.
Rhee issued and sold unapproved bonds to divert money to his Korean Commission and take finances away from the KNA and Provisional Government.
By 1924 things had reached a bitter climax. In 1925 the Korean Provisional Government placed an official death warrant out for Rhee.