33 miles later we arrive in Kangso-Kun County, Pyongyang, now part of North Korea. On 1st February 1883 Cho Man-Sik was born here. Cho Man-Sik, also known by his penname Ko Dang, was an activist within Korean’s Christian movement and an elder in the Presbyterian Church he attended in Pyongyang.
From June 1908 to 1919 he studied law in Tokyo at Meiji University. He was influenced By the likes of Ahn Chang Ho and became involved with the Korean Independence Movement following Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910. Cho took part in the Sam Il marches of 1st March 1919 which led to his arrest.
On his release he continued with non-violent resistence, for which he became known as the “Ghandi of Korea“. In actual fact it was the peaceful Sam Il marches that inspired Mahatma Ghandi’s non-violent resistence movement one year later. Cho was also keen on national self-sufficiency and formed the Korean Products Promotion Society, encouraging Koreans to buy Korean goods and instilling a sense of nationalism through this.
In August 1945, with Japanese surrender imminent, the Japanese Governor-General of Pyongyang approached Cho to organise a committee to take over control of the area. Cho agreed and set up the Provisional People’s Committee for the Five Provinces, for which he was the chairman. Days later the Soviet Union arrived in Pyongyang as per their agreement with the USA to take control of North Korea up to the 38th parallel. Cho Man-Sik was forced to share his power with communist supported Kim Il-Sung. Their clash in ideologies led to a lot of tension, culminating in Cho being forced to resign as chairman. He later stood in a vice-presidency election in 1948 but lost due to the increasing communist grip on North Korea. His resistance to communism led to his arrest. The last confirmed reports of him were at a prison in Pyongyang; it is believed he was executed here on 15th October 1950 during the Korean War. In 1970 the South Korean government declared Cho a martyr and awarded him the posthumous title of Order of the Republic of Korea in recognition of his contribution to his country.
We will be marking our arrival with 33 crucifix press ups before continuing 154 miles to the infamous North South Divide.