Life of Ilhan New

Ilhan New the Independence Fighter

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Life of Ilhan New


Ilhan New the Independence Fighter

From the childhood, Ilhan New learned his father's love for the country and the patriotic spirit from the sorrow of his people who lost their country at the end of Korean Empire and with the Christianity-based resistance. He developed his own patriotic spirit as he underwent the military training in the Korean Child Soldier School and was affected by Jae-pil Seo and others.

After hearing the news about the Mar. 1 Independence Movement in 1919, Dr. Ilhan New participated in the Korean Freedom Convention led by Jae-pil Seo and held in Philadelphia and announced the Resolution Elucidating Koreans' Purposes and Aspiration. He started to positively participate in more activities for recovering the sovereignty of the fatherland and obtaining the independence, even working as an executive branch member of the International Korean Convention held in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1941 and as a Korean advisor of the Office of Strategic Service (OSS) of the US Army in 1942.

As the Second World War Ⅱ broke out, the US needed an Asian specialist, and Dr. Ilhan New took the position as an advisor, devoting himself to the independence of his fatherland with the yearning for the liberation and independence of his own country. In addition, he read a congratulatory message at the Korean flag-raising ceremony held at the city hall of Los Angeles, US, in Aug., 1942. He also played a key role in establishing the Mangho Army for National Independence consisting of Koreans in the US.

Several months before the independence on August 15, 1945, Dr. Ilhan New worked as the head of Team No. 1 in the NAPKO project planned by the OSS of the US Army. The NAPKO Project was a special project for training patriotic Koreans in the US as a commando and infiltrating them to Korea. However, the project was not carried out as Japan surrendered before the operation of the project.


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NAPKO Project and Korea Penetration Army

The US had a plan to infiltrate armed forces consisting of Koreans into Korea. The plan was related to the famous training of the Liberation Army of Chongqing Provisional Government by OSS and the plan for the penetration to Korea. According to the report by Colonel Fifler, the organizer of the Field Experiment Unit, to Donovan, the OSS Director, on March 7, the purpose of the NAPKO project was to 'prepare an army to immediately infiltrate to Korea and ultimately form an underground intelligence organization in Japan to carry out sabotage and non-violent resistance continuously.'

The plan could have effectively show the positive support by the 23 million Korean people for a revolution for the sake of the independence. The OSS in the continental US secretly promoted the NAPKO project to infiltrate to Korea, and the OSS branch in China prepared the Eagle Operation using the Liberation Army as well as a Northern China Operation to send the Joseon Volunteer Army in the coastal regions through Manchuria. However, as the Second World War was finished and Japan was defeated, the two plans for infiltrating into the Korean Peninsula were frustrated.

If the war had not been finished so early, an underground organization would have been formed through Dr. Ilhan New's personal network and the Yuhan Corporation network in Seoul. Followed by the operation by the Liberation Army, an impressive resistance movement, like the French Resistance, could have happened in the Korean Peninsula.