Through these and other organizations an attempt was made to pressure President Woodrow Wilson into speaking in behalf of Korean autonomy at the Paris peace talks. Finally, in 1918, a representative of the Korean exiles was sent to these peace talks.
In 1919, when the Joseon Dynasty was forcefully absorbed into the Japanese Empire, Ahn started underground activities that focused on regaining Korean independence. He returned to Shanghai in April 1919 along with Rhee Syngman and Kim Ku, where and became acting premier of a provisional government. They drew up a Democratic Constitution that provided for a freely elected president and legislature. This document also established the freedom of the press, speech, religion, and assembly. An independent judiciary was established and the previous class system of nobility was abolished. After trying in vain to narrow the differences of opinion between the leaders in Shanghai, he resigned from the post after two years.
Finally, on March 1, 1919, the provisional government declared its independence from Japan and called for general resistance from the Korean population. During the resistance demonstrations the Japanese police opened fire on the unarmed Korean crowds, killing thousands. Many thousand more were arrested and tortured.