Family Site

The Righteous Army Movement

In 1908 when he was 30, Ahn succeeded in creating the Daehan (Korean) Righteous Army with Kim Du-seong as commander and Yi Beom-yun as vice-commander. After being elected Army Chief of Staff, Ahn launched an anti-Japanese independence movement also as an ad-hoc commander of a special commando unit for national independence.

Photos: (From left) An ethnic Korean residential community frequented by Ahn/ A riverside of Tumen River near the Hassan that Ahn passed over for domestic advance operations/ Hoeryeong which is the strategic location of the Tumen River region

At that time, I set out my logical argument. We have a force of only 200 to 300 soldiers. As the enemy is strong and we are weak in terms of the numbers of soldiers, we should by no means make a low estimate of our opponents. Ancient military strategies say, “Even though things are so pressing, we should plan a big enterprise after mapping out all possible plans.” It is inevitable that we cannot make a success with a one-time revolt to the cause of justice. It, however, is also inevitable that we should be fully determined to recover the sovereignty of our great nation with a firm conviction that we will accomplish our goal in the end. We should attempt to accomplish our goal twice once we fail first, thrice once we failed twice, and then four times, ten times, and even one hundred times, and more if necessary. If we cannot finish our mission this year, we should accomplish it next year, and the following year, and so forth, too. If we cannot achieve our expected goal in our lifetime, the next generations led by our sons and even our grandchildren should do it.
In July the same year, Ahn brought 200 soldiers to cross the Tumen River and they were engaged in a gunfight against the Japanese soldiers and police three times to kill some 50 enemies at the village of Gyeongheung in Hamgyeong-do (present Najin in Hamgyeongbuk-do). Ahn’s army advanced to Hoeryeong, a major military base of the Japanese army, and fought with the enemies for up to 30 times for 13 days and destroyed the Japanese defense force. After the battles, Ahn released the Japanes prisoners of war (POWs) under the international public law and under the spirit of humanitarianism, which sometimes caused some protests among the fellow soldiers. After all, Ahn’s army fought unsupported at the face of the Japanese elite troop’s “operations of suppression” and finally was defeated due largely to the lack of bullets and soldiers, some of whom had been dispersed during the battle. The army barely managed to stay alive virtually with the aid of herb-roots and tree-barks and could safely returned to the headquarters in Primorsky Krai (Yeonhaeju) after having wandered in the forests under a continuous rainy spell for one and a half month. Likewise, the activities of the righteous army suffered severe difficulties due to the counterattacks of the Japanese aggressors. When his fellow soldiers became disturbed, Ahn encouraged them by writing a poem.

From A Biography of Ahn Jung-geun

Ahn’s poem for his fellow righteous soldiers

Ahn Jung Geun Memorial Museum

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