After hearing news of President Woodrow Wilson’s speech at the Paris Peace Conference outlining the right of national “self-determination” and news about the independence movement led by Korean immigrants in the US, Korean students studying in Tokyo, Japan, organized a public demonstration against the colonial rule.
Korean students first formed the Korean Young People’s Independence Organization. At 10 a.m. on February 8, 1919, they distributed the Declaration of Korea’s Independence, a resolution, and a petition for organization of the event to embassies of various countries in Tokyo, Japanese governors, the Japanese Government-General of Korea, and Japanese publishers of newspapers and magazines.
At 2 p.m., the students initiated the event in the heart of Tokyo and read the February 8 Proclamation of Independence Statement calling for Korea’s independence and pledging to fight against Japanese colonial rule.
They tried to discuss independence and march down the streets. However, the Japanese police forced them to disperse, and the leaders were arrested and imprisoned.
However, Korean students continued their proclamation of independence and played significant roles in March First Movement upon their return to Korea. We must remember the independence proclamation by pure-hearted young students of Joseon.