|Tsukiyama Akihiro aka Lee Myung-bak|
Japan illegally occupied Korea from 1905 until 1945 despite an active campaign of resistance by a number of Koreans domestically in addition to exile groups such as the People's Front of Korea (P.F.K.), who in a founding statement said that "The Japanese have done nothing for Korea, (apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, rice wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health of course)".
In 1945 Japan was defeated by forces allied with Korean resistance groups including People's Front of Korea, the Korean People's Front, the Korean Popular People's Front, the Popular Front of Korea, and the Campaign for a Free Chosun. But after their defeat, the troubling question arose of what to do with those Koreans who had profited from working for the Japanese. Eventually, after a sufficient number of post-war Koreans were born to put the collaborators into a clear electoral minority, the government enacted legislation which allowed the assets of descendants of collaborators to be seized.
In an unusual move, politicians were not exempt from the law. In 2005 Shin Ki Nam – a close ally of former President Roh and chairman of his Uri Party, was identified as the son of a collaborator and forced to resign from the party.
Initially, the law was only applied to the descendants of Koreans who worked for the Japanese in Korea, but in recent months legal opinion has indicated that it should also apply to the descendants of Koreans who worked for the Japanese in Japan, which includes Lee Myung-bak. Lee, who was born in Osaka under the name Tsukiyama Akihiro but who took the name 'Lee Myung-bak' after Japan's defeat, had always tried to avoid discussion of his past aided by media blackouts in later years. However, there were the occasional gaffs, such as the one during his trip to Dokdo last year when in an off-guard moment facing the Japanese side of the islands he remarked "I can see my old house from here." Aides later said the President had misspoken and meant to say "I can see our old enemy from here."
Prosecutors say that as a consequence of recent legal opinion, Lee's residence, the Blue House, should therefore be subject to the asset seizure law since his parents worked for the Japanese during the war, even if this was in Japan rather than Korea. But Lee claims he won the residence in a high-stakes poker game five years ago, just before he moved in.
In what now appears to be an ironic move, earlier this month Lee awarded himself a medal for services to Korea before pardoning those who had worked for him and instructing the government to ensure it left no evidence behind.
Initial reports indicate prosecutors who arrived at the Blue House this evening found piles of shredded documents throughout the residence and computers with all their documents removed and placed in the Windows Recycle Bin, where Korean IT experts will struggle to recover them from. But it seems Lee had already fled, and is now believed to be on the run. Airports and ports have been told to be on the lookout for a 71-year-old with suspiciously good hair, who may be traveling under a number of aliases, including that of "Tsukiyama Akihiro".
Lee, who rose to prominence in the construction industry as the youngest ever CEO of Hyundai Group – earning him the nicknames of 'Bulldozer' and 'Stainless Steel Rat' – leaves behind a legacy of Japanese-style working practices in Korea's corporations, the Japanese-style 'Four Rivers' white-elephant infrastructure project, and a nation filled with Japanese restaurants which are believed to be serving food which makes Koreans more defeatable.
South Korea targets Japanese collaborators' descendants
Seizing collaborators' properties legal: Court
Seoul party chief quits over father's colonial collaboration
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The Evolution of a Man Called 'Bulldozer'
The Stainless Steel Rat
Rat painter conviction upheld by top court
President's self-awarded medal called into question
Lee Calls for Gov’t’s Clean Completion of Its Term
Pardon plan draws fierce criticism
The Four Major Rivers Project
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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Visits Dokdo!
Betrayal! Infamy! Lee Myung-bak betrays Dokdo!
Shock as President Lee Myung-bak Recalled for Military Duty
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