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Lee Yong-je fled to Paris to escape Japanese tyranny in 1920
— by Um Ji-won: “Bonsoir, Madame. Oui, Mademoiselle. Oui, Mademoiselle.”
Even as he repeated the words, they sounded unfamiliar. He felt seasick from the long journey. The young man turned his gaze to the expanse of the ocean. It was November, a time when the cold would begin arriving in his hometown, but on the Indian Ocean it was as sweltering as the early summer days of June. For a brief moment, 22-year-old Lee Yong-je felt his heart beat faster at the thought that he had escaped Korea, where the old ways of Joseon and the tyranny of Japan held sway, and arrived here on a foreign ocean. It was the year after 1919, when the March 1 Independence Movement had taken place. The young man had no idea at the time that it was a journey he would never return from.
Meeting the Hankyoreh on Apr. 18 in the commune of Bourg-la-Reine on the outskirts of Paris, his son Antoine, 73, smiled as he showed his father’s notebook and its labored French script from 99 years earlier…
Image courtesy of Antoine Lee
April 29, 2019 — 16:47 KST