The 1st of March doesn’t have any significance in the U.S. but in Korea, this is a very important day in history. Let’s just say that if March 1st never took place, there may not be Koreans, Korea, Korea-anything.
In the early 1900's, Korea was under the influence and control of the Japanese government. But the country’s independence movement led by Korean activists was gaining steam. In 1919, 33 delegates read aloud and signed the declaration of independence. The public took action to gain independence, not through violence and riots, rather through peaceful marches and vocal declaration.
As they waved the Korean flag yelling "대한독립만세!" ("dae-han dok-lip manse", translation: Long live Independence of Korea!), Japanese oppressors tried to stop them from waving the flags by cutting off their arms. The people of Korea, however, pressed on waving the flag with the remaining arm. When that limb was also removed, the people gripped the flag in their mouths to continue the peaceful protests. Decades of this went on: oppression, resistance, oppression, resistance.
We at KORELIMITED, a brand that celebrates Korean culture, recognize and cherish March 1st. Not only did the brave forerunners of this movement often sacrifice their lives, but their families also had to carry on with the absence of a father or husband. This year, we decided to highlight some of the most widely recognized freedom fighters and honor them in our March 1st pieces (now available).
About three years ago, we collaborated with Artist Joseph Lee (@joeyunlee) on Dosan Ahn Changho's mural. We also had the privilege to connect with Flip Cuddy, Ahn's grandson, who taught us about the deeper works and sacrifices of Ahn as one of the first Korean immigrants to the US, Korea's independent activist, a comrade, a husband, and a father.
The mural was based off one of Ahn's last photographs, taken in 1937 months before his death. This photo displayed Ahn's name (in Chinese characters) and his prisoner number 1724. Despite this reality, Lee chose this image for the mural because it still captured the eyes of a fierce unrelenting fighter. You can catch this mural in Koreatown, Los Angeles near Western Ave. and Olympic Blvd (F1 Auto Body, Inc.).
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