Yi Jun, Yi Sang-sol and Yi Wi-jong (Hague Secret Emissary Affair)
|Revised Romanization||I Jun|
Yi Jun was born in Bukcheong (북청) in the province of South Hamgyong and later worked as a judge in Seoul. In 1907 he and his compatriots Yi Sang-seol and Yi Wi-jong were delegated by Emperor Gojong to attend the Second Hague Peace Conference in The Hague. He was commissioned to announce to the international community that Korea was an independent state and that the Japanese invasion was unlawful. The trio traveled for two months on the Trans-Siberian Railway to The Hague.
The Korean delegation was not officially invited, although the Netherlands initially had planned. However, the Japanese government was able to step in and succeeded in convincing the other delegates of the conference to not let Korea participate. A few days after Yi Jun protested against the decision, he was found dead in his room at the Hotel De Jong in the Wagenstraat, the Hague. His cause of death is unknown, but in South Korea it is assumed that he committed suicide due to the rejection by the international community. In time, however, Japanese newspapers suggested that he was killed by Japanese spies.
The mission had already failed. However, the three Koreans succeeded in receiving worldwide attention due to a press conference and receiving attention in an independent newspaper which covered the Peace Conference. The direct result of their mission was that the Korean Emperor, Gojong was forced to resign in favor of his son Sunjong.
Yi was buried at the Oud Eik en Duinen cemetery in The Hague. His remains were exhumed on September 26, 1963 and transferred to South Korea and there solemnly reburied.
The former hotel De Jong, where Yi died, is since 1995 the Yi Jun Peace Museum, a private museum in memory of Yi Jun and dedicated to the promotion of peace. The museum was founded by a South Korean businessman Lee Kee-Hang and his wife Song Chang-ju.