In memory of Professor Choung Il Chee (2012)
I learned from Dr. Park yesterday of the sad departure of Professor Choung Il Chee, and I would like to offer my sympathy as a fellow Asian member of the Commission. I met him only a few times when he visited our international law society meetings in Tokyo. He impressed me as a person who was honest, frank and straightforward. He detested hypocrisy more than anything else. So, Professor Chee did not dare to hide his feelings toward Japan, severely attacking its colonial rule during those 40 years between 1905 and 1945, which he referred to several times in the course of this Commission’s deliberations.
As a national coming from the country which suffered so much from the atrocities, he had all the right to do so, even if his remarks were somewhat unrelated to the issues being discussed in the Commission. I might have done the same thing, if I were in his position, as I also detest hypocrisy and could not pretend that those were the things of the past. I understand his anger and frustration.
Yesterday, I happened to meet a young lady from Korea who has come here to observe the Commission. We talked about the three Korean envoys who came to The Hague in 1907 trying to attend the Second Peace Conference to appeal for Korea’s representation. The Conference flatly rejected their request, and one of the delegates, Yi Jun, died in The Hague in despair (Shinya Murase, “The Presence of Asia at the 1907 Hague Conference,” in Colloquium, Topicality of the Hague Peace Conference of 1907, Hague Academy of International Law, Martinus Nijhoff, 2009, pp. 85-101; reproduced in S. Murase, International Law: An Integrative Perspective on Transboundary Issues, Sophia Univ. Press, 2011, pp.419-433.).
That was just the beginning of the tragic history of his nation, and Professor Chee eloquently reminded us that such a history should not be repeated. I pray that his soul may rest in peace.