[Silver Prize] Pioneer of Globalization
As globalization rapidly spreads throughout the world, it has become an inevitable fact that no nation can survive on its own.
Not only being cooperative with other nations, but also forming a union has become an essential element for any successful nation.
For instance, nations in the European Union are putting their natural resources, human capital even information resources together in order to develop their nations' strengths in the areas of economy, education, technology and politics.
The significance of the EU is not only that it has shifted the world economy away from being ``America-centered'' but also it has
Ahn Jung-geun, a Korean patriot during the Japanese colonial period was one of the very first to realize the significance of a union and tried to establish one before anyone else did. He was truly the first global leader in the history of East-Asia, as proven by his great insight and vision.
What are the elements that a leader ought to have? Among various aspects, love is the prerequisite; love for one's nation, love for one's people, love for one's society is absolute. During the Japanese colonial period, Ahn still identified himself as not only Korean, but also Asian.
His last essay, ``On Peace in East-Asia'' clearly describes his love toward Asia, especially toward East Asia.
In this essay, he constantly emphasized the importance of a union involving Korea, Japan and China in order to establish the world's strongest economy.
He claimed that we should establish a political and economic union, first involving Korea, Japan and China, subsequently other countries like India, the Philippines, and Thailand as well.
As a famous quote by Socrates says, ``I am not an Athenian or Greek, but a citizen of the world,'' Ahn was not only a Korean, but also a citizen of Asia and moreover, he was a visionary of Asia.
What else did Ahn have as a leader? He educated people. Education is very important for any nation to build a strong economy and power.
One of the reasons that the United States stays as a leading world nation is because they have a relatively more advanced education system.
Many studies done about the relationship between GDP and literacy rate are perfect evidences for this. Ahn recognized it early and actually educated people.
For instance, in 1906 he spent his own money to build Sam Hueng School and Don Eu School with the firm belief that the success of a nation is dependent upon education.
His main students were Koreans; however his goal was to educate all Asians. Educating Koreans was just the first step to achieve his dream. As a leader, he knew what was needed, and he acted on his beliefs.
Ahn had shown his true leadership in sharing his vision and educating people.
However, on Oct. 26, 1909, he assassinated Hirobumi Ito, the Japanese prime minister at that time. Regardless of such a brutal act, we should not consider this an act of terrorism because his main reason for assassinating Ito was to bring back real peace and friendship between Korea, Japan and China.
Ahn actually supported Japanese troops and Ito in the Russo-Japanese War because Ito had stated that the war was for protecting peace in East-Asia, but when the war ended with the victory of Japan, Ito tried to take control over China and Korea even more than before.
Ahn fired three shots at Ito. When he was arrested by Japanese policemen, he shouted out 15 things Ito had done wrong which included breaking the peace in East Asia. Actually, Ahn, himself was a true pacifist who had captured four Japanese soldiers but released them because he thought it was immoral to hold onto them.
So considering his ideology, one could say that he assassinated Ito only for the good of his people and nation. Once again, he showed that he always cared about keeping the peace in Asia.
Ahn was Korean, but his soul was Asian. He not only thought about how to benefit Korea, but also Asia. On March 26, 1910, at the age of 31, Ahn was executed.
But even at the moment of facing death, his only hope was for peace in East Asia. ``I did it for peace in East Asia, so I hope Korea and Japan will cooperate with each other for peace in East Asia even after my execution.'' At his execution, he wanted to shout out the words ``peace in Asia,'' but he died before he could do.
In 2009, 100 years after he passed away, the case of an East Asia union once again has been brought up to the surface by other Asian leaders: the new Japanese Primes Minister, Hatoyama, the Chinese President Hu Jintao and Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
They are seriously considering forming the East Asia union which can be the first step to a stronger bond and fraternity. If the East Asia union is formed, the world will experience a great shift in economy, politics and even more areas.
The East-Asia union is Ahn's last and only dream. His dead body may have not been found yet, but his voice and dream are vividly living among us.
The writer is a student at Kyung Hee University.