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Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, from an empire to a republic

In the Preamble to the 1st Constitutional Law, it is stated that the Republic of Korea “succeeds the great spirit of independence proclaimed to the world by the founding of the Republic of Korea through the Independence Movement on March 1st, 1919” and the Preamble to the current Constitutional Law discloses that the Republic of Korea “succeeds the legal traditions of the Provincial Government of the Republic of Korea founded through the March 1st Independent Movement and the April 19th Democratic Ideologies that defied injustice,” thereby clarifying the national historical status of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Therefore, the Republic of Korea inherits the legitimacy of national history that continued through the chain of the ‘Joseon-Korean Empire-Provisional Government of Republic of Korea’.

Panoramic view of Waitan (the Bund) in Shanghai

Shanghai, which opened up to the foreign powers after the defeat of Qing Dynasty in 1842 in its war with England, concessional districts in which the administration rights and extraterritoriality of England, USA and France were established. Accordingly, revolutionary movements of China and independence movements of various oppressed nations of Asia were developed with such concessional districts as the center of movement. Waitan Harbor of Huangpu River that divides Shanghai into 2 regions is where the independence fighters of Korea arrived at the time of their exile to Shanghai.

The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was the overall commanding organization of the independence movement established by advocating ‘Republic’ in which the ‘people are the masters of the nation’ on the basis of the ideologies of independence stipulated under the ‘Declaration of Independence’ of March 1st, 1919. The Provisional Government lead the restoration of sovereignty and anti-Japanese wars of Korea through an extensive range of hardships by having to roam around various regions of China including Shanghai over an unprecedentedly prolonged period of 27 years throughout world history until the final defeat and surrender by Japan in 1945.