By Choe Sang-Hun, International Herald Tribune, FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005
Kang Man Gil, a renowned historian appointed as head of a prestigious government committee preparing for the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, was asked a question by a reporter last week and he said what few historians dispute. When his reply was reported, however, many South Koreans called for Kang's dismissal. Kang said last week that Kim Il Sung, the late North Korean president, had fought against colonial Japan.
"It's a historical fact," Kang said, adding that "Kim's anti-Japanese struggle should be considered part of the nation's independence movement." It was more than enough to set off South Korea's conservatives.
"It's a senile comment that we can never tolerate, given the sentiment of our people," said a statement from the Free Citizens' Alliance of Korea, a leading conservative group in Seoul. "Kim Il Sung was a war criminal. A senior public official advertising him as an independence fighter - this is something that should never happen."------------