|Kwon Ki-ok 1901-1988|
Kwon learned that there was to be a demonstration at 2 pm that very afternoon. It would take place all over Korea at the same time. Kwon must have tingled inside as she learned more about the event. A group of students in Seoul had written an independence proclamation, demanding Korea's freedom from Japan. The statement would be read out loud everywhere at 2 pm. Would she join them? Yes, of course she would!
Korea had been under Japanese colonial rule since 1905. Forced labor, lack of jobs, diminished education, unfair laws destructive to Korean culture were all part of the oppression many felt. The event became known as the March 1st Movement. An estimated 2,000,000 Koreans participated in more than 1,500 demonstrations throughout the country, but a massacre by Japanese police and military resulted (only 553 Koreans were reported killed). Another 12,000 Koreans received jail sentences and Kwon Ki-ok was one of them. Kwon spent three weeks in jail for her participation. After her release, she became involved with the Korean Patriotic Women's Association, and again arrested, spent six months in prison. After her release, Kwon fled to China, exiled.
|Kwon Ki-ok (2nd from right) with a patriotic women's society |
|Graduating class 1918, Sunhyeon Normal School. |
Kwon - 3rd down, on left.
|American Stunt pilot Art Smith. He inspired Kwon to fly in 1917|
|Kwon Ki-ok (2nd from left) 1935. Ready to fly in Shenzhen, China. |
With Italian instructor. Ⓒ jeonghyeju
In 1945, after World War II ended, Korea received its independence. Kwon returned home, where she helped found the Republic of Korea Air Force. She also held the record as Korea’s first female aviator. During the Korean War, she served her country as a member of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense. Kwon retired after the war.
Special honors received:
-Presidential commendation (South Korea) (1968)
-Order of Merit for National Foundation (Korea) (1977)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwon_Ki-ok; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_1st_Movement; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Smith_%28pilot%29