An Chang-nam

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An Chang-nam
An in the 1930s
Korean name
Hangul 안창남
Hanja 安昌男
Revised Romanization An Changnam
McCune–Reischauer An Ch'ang-nam

An Chang-nam (19 March 1901 – 2 April 1930) was the first Korean aviator.


Born and raised in Seoul, he is believed to have been inspired to learn to fly after having seen an aerobatics demonstration by American pilot Art Smith in 1916 or 1917.[1] In 1920, he graduated from Japan's Okuri Aviation School in Susaki (present-day Kōtō, Tokyo.[2] He passed his examinations to obtain a basic pilot's permit the following year; through his flying in demonstrations in Japan, he was able to obtain a first-class pilot's licence without sitting further examinations.[3] On his triumphant homecoming flight to visit Korea in December 1922, he landed at Seoul's Yeouido Airport.[4] Upon his return to Japan, he worked as a flight instructor; however, after he witnessed the massacre of Koreans in Japan in the aftermath of the 1 September 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, he became resolved to fight against Japanese rule over Korea, and in 1924 secretly went into exile in China. There, he joined the infantry of Guo Songling's army; afterwards, he lived in Beijing, becoming active in the Korean independence movement there. At the introduction of Lyuh Woon-Hyung, he joined Yen Hsi-shan's army in 1926 and relocated to Taiyuan, Shanxi, where he became principal of the Shanxi Aviation Academy. He lived there until his death on 2 April 1930, when he crashed his plane in bad weather while returning to the airport after an unplanned flight.[3] He was posthumously awarded South Korea's Order of Merit for National Foundation in 2003.[1]

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