Chang, In-hwan: Patriot Number One who had uplifted the torch of Korean independence by assassinating the traitor Durham White Stevens.
This brave Korean patriot immigrated to America in 1905 to Hawaii. He moved to the mainland in San Francisco, CA. He immediately joined Dae Dong Bo Gook Hoe while working as a rail- road laborer and an Alaska fisherman. The name Chang, In-hwan fulgently reminds all the Koreans around the world of his heroic and patriotic act of assassinating Stevens, a pro-Japanese lackey, on March 23, 1908 in San Francisco; therefore, boldly manifesting Korean sovereignty. His patriotic deed in America
spearheaded later heroic acts of Ahn, Joong-geun to do away of Ito Hirobumi. Yun, Bong-gil and Lee, Bong-chang’s shooting of Japanese generals was followed by stabbing the heinous Korean traitor Lee, Wan-yong by Lee, Jae-myung. On March 21, 1908, Stevens made an utterly absurd comment in San Francisco: He stated that the Japanese occupation is what all Koreans want due to the Korean King’s incompetence. Furthermore, he justified Japanese occupation by saying Koreans are not qualified to be independent. Korean members like Moon, Yang-mok and others from Gong Lip Hyup Hoe and Dae Dong Bo Gook Hoe visited Stevens in the hotel and demanded him to retract his nonsensical statement. Stevens flatly refused to do so. Chung, Jae-kwan socked Stevens’ chin while others struck him with chairs. Koreans were rightly and justifiably livid as this American diplomat was praising the Japanese annexation treaty and Korean traitor Lee, Wan-yong as a loyalist. Originally, Jeon, Myeong-woon first shot Stevens. However, he misfired and a fist fight en- sued. At this moment, Chang could not miss the critical seconds. He fired three shots at Stevens. Two bullets shot Stevens’ chest and leg, and the other bullet shot Jeon’s shoulder. During a questioning by the police, Chang proudly answered that “since Stevens praised illegal Japanese annexation, this man is poisoning twenty million Koreans to death. Unless I do away with this offender out of existence, all the Koreans shall surely die. That is why I took care of this reprehensible animal.” His heroic act inspired Koreans an immense sense of patriotism and even Americans praised Chang’s bold action. Stevens expired on March 25 in the hospital. If Chang, In-hwan shot this reprehensible pro- Japanese American diplomat in Korea or China, Chang would have been executed. However, there are two salient grounds to escape the death penalty: First, Chang’s legal defense was brilliant and sufficient legal defense funds had been raised. Second, a successful legal defense of insanity was adroitly utilized to avoid the harsh punishment in the case. More than seven thousand early immigrants and Korean workers in Mexican farms came up and furnished $8,390.00 for legal defense. This kind of collection of defense was the first of its kind in the history of Korean immigration . Chang was sentenced from twenty five years to life. January 10, 1919 was a historical event for San Francisco Korean Church as this was the day when Chang was released on parole and when Rev. David Lee held a festive reception for Chang and the Korean Community. Furthermore, at the reception, Chang made a surprising statement that he was paroled on a personal guarantee of Rev. Hwang, Sa-sun and he asked people to fight the independence of Korea. His final release came on April 13, 1924. Chang returned to Korea briefly in 1927 to marry. However, due to Japanese surveillance and physical illness from prison, he came back to San Francisco on October 11 of the same year. While he was ill, he committed suicide on May 22, 1930. He was buried at Cypress Cemetery in San Francisco. In 1975, the South Korean government repatriated his remains to Dong Jak Dong National Cemetery in Seoul, Korea. In 1962, the South Korean government posthumously recognized him with the Order of Merit of National Foundation / Presidential Award for his unwavering sacrifice and dedication to the Korean independence movement.