Lee Sil Gun dies, supporter of A-bomb survivors in North Korea

Lee Sil Gun, chair of the Council of Atomic-bombed Koreans in Hiroshima, died of renal failure at 5:30 p.m. on March 25 at a home for elderly people in Nishi Ward, Hiroshima. He was 90. Mr. Lee, who was originally from Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, made great efforts to support A-bomb survivors living in North Korea. His home address is 2-25-1-202 Fukushima-cho, Nishi-ku Hiroshima-shi. His funeral will be held from 11:00 a.m. at Sanserumo Gyokusen-in Chuo Kaikan at 6-18 Yoshijima-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi. The chief mourner is his son, Lee Yeongil.

In August 1975, the group was formed in Hiroshima to investigate the actual conditions of Korean A-bomb survivors living in Japan and establish a support system for them. This was the first such group in Japan. Mr. Lee served as its president. He also became the president of the nationwide group for supporting Korean survivors living in Japan created in 1980.

In July 1989, Mr. Lee visited North Korea, which has no diplomatic relations with Japan, to confirm the presence of A-bomb survivors in the country. He visited the country again and again to explore how to support them. After the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony held in Hiroshima on August 6, a meeting was held by the city government where representatives from the Japanese government listened to survivors’ requests. Mr. Lee participated in the meeting as one of the representatives of the seven A-bomb survivors’ groups and continued to request that survivors living in North Korea be given support. He also called for relief measures for them at a working group of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1994.

According to his book and other sources, Mr. Lee was exposed to the residual radiation of the bomb when he walked though Hiroshima on August 7, 1945, the day after the atomic bombing, on his way from Kobe to his home in Yamaguchi Prefecture, since the train service was stopped.

(Originally published on March 27, 2020)