Amid his hectic schedule while on a state visit to Kazakhstan that includes summit talks, South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended a highly emotional ceremony on Sunday to observe and celebrate the return of the remains of two former anti-Japanese independence fighters back to their native country.
The ceremony was held shortly after Moon arrived here on a three-day visit that began earlier in the day in Almaty.
In the ceremony, the remains of the late independence fighters -- Gye Bong-woo (1880-1956) and Hwang Woon-jeong (1899-1989) -- were loaded onto a presidential jet that flew in directly from Seoul to carry them back to South Korea.
The two had previously been recognized for their fight against Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea while in exile.
The two were forced to relocate from Russia's Far East under the former Soviet Union in 1937.
"Today, we are facing the history of the independence movement over time and boundaries. Patriot Gye Bong-woo and patriot Hwang Woon-jeong's lives had never been away from the country's liberation even for a second. They longed for their homeland until the day of their passing, and they wished for the country's independence, prosperity and peace whether they were in Siberia or Kazakhstan," Moon told the meeting.
"We must never forget that it was the devotion and sacrifice of numerous independence fighters that made the Republic of Korea what it is today," he added.
The two former independence fighters will be buried at South Korea's national cemeteries, along with the remains of their wives, according to Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
So far, the country has found and recovered the remains of 141 independence fighters from nine countries, including China and the United States, it said.
President Moon Jae-in pays his respects before the remains of two Koreans who fought for Korean independence from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule in a ceremony held in Nur-Sultan on April 21, 2019, to send home the remains. The South Korean president arrived in Kazakhstan earlier in the day on a three-day state visit. (Yonhap)