2020.09.26 (토)

  • 구름조금속초16.7℃
  • 맑음18.0℃
  • 맑음철원16.1℃
  • 맑음동두천18.3℃
  • 맑음파주17.2℃
  • 구름조금대관령12.1℃
  • 맑음백령도19.4℃
  • 구름조금북강릉15.7℃
  • 구름조금강릉16.7℃
  • 구름많음동해17.5℃
  • 맑음서울20.6℃
  • 맑음인천21.1℃
  • 구름많음원주19.6℃
  • 구름조금울릉도17.2℃
  • 맑음수원20.9℃
  • 구름조금영월17.3℃
  • 구름조금충주17.8℃
  • 맑음서산20.2℃
  • 구름많음울진16.9℃
  • 맑음청주21.7℃
  • 맑음대전21.4℃
  • 맑음추풍령16.4℃
  • 구름조금안동19.6℃
  • 구름조금상주18.9℃
  • 비포항19.0℃
  • 맑음군산21.3℃
  • 맑음대구20.5℃
  • 구름조금전주21.0℃
  • 구름조금울산19.2℃
  • 구름조금창원21.0℃
  • 구름조금광주21.9℃
  • 구름조금부산20.6℃
  • 구름많음통영21.7℃
  • 구름조금목포21.3℃
  • 구름조금여수22.3℃
  • 맑음흑산도18.3℃
  • 구름많음완도20.7℃
  • 구름조금고창20.4℃
  • 구름많음순천18.7℃
  • 맑음홍성(예)20.7℃
  • 구름조금제주22.0℃
  • 구름조금고산21.6℃
  • 구름조금성산20.3℃
  • 맑음서귀포20.6℃
  • 구름조금진주19.1℃
  • 맑음강화19.2℃
  • 맑음양평19.2℃
  • 구름조금이천18.5℃
  • 흐림인제15.5℃
  • 구름조금홍천17.9℃
  • 구름조금태백13.4℃
  • 구름조금정선군15.6℃
  • 구름조금제천16.1℃
  • 맑음보은17.2℃
  • 맑음천안20.5℃
  • 맑음보령20.8℃
  • 맑음부여19.5℃
  • 맑음금산17.5℃
  • 맑음21.5℃
  • 맑음부안20.7℃
  • 맑음임실19.7℃
  • 맑음정읍20.4℃
  • 구름조금남원20.5℃
  • 맑음장수17.1℃
  • 맑음고창군21.7℃
  • 맑음영광군20.0℃
  • 구름조금김해시20.4℃
  • 맑음순창군20.4℃
  • 구름조금북창원22.1℃
  • 맑음양산시20.6℃
  • 구름많음보성군20.6℃
  • 흐림강진군20.3℃
  • 구름많음장흥19.2℃
  • 구름많음해남19.4℃
  • 구름많음고흥18.5℃
  • 구름조금의령군18.6℃
  • 맑음함양군18.2℃
  • 구름조금광양시21.8℃
  • 구름조금진도군20.6℃
  • 구름조금봉화16.9℃
  • 구름많음영주17.4℃
  • 맑음문경17.1℃
  • 구름조금청송군18.9℃
  • 구름많음영덕16.7℃
  • 구름조금의성17.5℃
  • 구름조금구미18.4℃
  • 구름조금영천18.8℃
  • 구름조금경주시18.9℃
  • 맑음거창17.1℃
  • 구름조금합천18.9℃
  • 구름조금밀양21.2℃
  • 맑음산청18.3℃
  • 구름조금거제21.1℃
  • 구름조금남해19.0℃
기상청 제공
Gwangju: Light of Liberty in East Asia
  • 해당된 기사를 공유합니다

Gwangju: Light of Liberty in East Asia

micheal.png
Michael Lammbrau: [The Korean traditional music newspaper]  Washington correspondent editor, 

 

South Korean Film: The Man Standing Next

 

After watching the 2020 South Korean film, "The Man Standing Next,” about the events leading up to President Park Cheong-hee’s assassination by his close friend, and head of the CIA (South Korean) Kim Jae-gyu on ) October 26, 1979, I decided to learn more about the South Korean democracy movement. 


Leading up to Park’s assassination a series of social, economic, and political events transpire, culminating in KCIA Director Kim Jae-gyu’s decision to assassinate President Park. First and most importantly President Park’s continuation of the authoritarian Yushin Constitution, first instituted through martial law and dissolution of the National Assembly, its continuation fueled popular political opposition for open presidential elections nationwide. On August 9th, 1979 the female workers of the YH Trading Company staged a lockout in protest of the Park Administration (any criticism of the Yushin Constitution demanded 15 years of prison). The opposition party, led by Kim Young-sam (native of Busan), heavily criticized the action and was subsequently expelled from the National Assembly on October 4, 1979: 66 other National Assembly members resigned in protest. This political unrest was also being fueled by the Oil Shock (starting in July 1979) which hit the cities of Busan and Masan the hardest, where they experienced an unemployment rate twice the national average. It was just too much and on October 16, 1979 student led popular protest (starting at Busan University) quickly spread to neighboring Masan, where the students of Kyungnam University led their own popular uprising.


The film depicts a defining question of the film: "How much are you willing to sacrifice?” "Why did we do the revolution? Why are we doing any of this? To kill 2-3 million citizens to stay in power? Is that worth the sacrifice?” Director Kim Jae-gyu decided that it was too many, and he sacrificed himself so that the people of Busan and Masan could live. 


KakaoTalk_20200825_103057708.png
Michael Lammbrau:Michael Lammbrau: [The Korean traditional music newspaper] Washington correspondent editor,

 

 

May 18 Gwangju Uprising


But in the ensuing political confusion after Park’s death, General Chun Doo-hwan took power in a military coup on December 12th, 1979, which set the stage for confrontation with student democratic reformers in the Spring of 1980. General Chun and his cadre had learned an important lesson from the Busan and Masan uprisings: "To maintain control popular protests must be dealt with swiftly, harshly, and with overwhelming force.” 


When students returned to campuses in the spring of 1980 and once again took the streets in protest against authoritarian rule (this time starting at Seoul Station), General Chun chose Gwangju to send a message to the rest of South Korea: do not challenge his rule.  


After visiting, Busan and Masan, I also decided to visit Gwangju to learn more about the Gwangju May 18 Uprising. I took the KTX train south from Seoul Station (just two hours), jumped on the 518 bus and toured the city of Gwangju. 


Similar to the Busan – Masan Democratic Protests just 7 months prior, students from Chonnam and Chosun University also led the popular protests in Gwangju. Although this time, General Chun was ready and on May 18, 1980 he declared martial law for the entire country: instituting curfews, shutting down universities, prohibited political activities, and freedom of the press. The Gwangju Uprising was famously ended through military force, turning the downtown streets of Gwangju into a warzone. 


The sacrifice of the Gwangju citizens for liberal democracy in South Korea (representative government, civil liberties, freedom of the press and assembly) resonates as you walk through the gates of the May 18 National Cemetery, reading "Democracy’s Strength,” and view the headstones of all those who fought and died against authoritarian rule. 


A Nation that Forgets its Past has No Future

 

As authoritarian and totalitarian regimes around the world rise again, the past becomes ever present, and for people that forget their past there is no future. Current generations, with no memory of the sacrifice or danger, must learn again to fight authoritarian rule. It is the burden of each and every generation to keep the authoritarian rulers at bay, to fight them for every inch, because in the end the light always wins, and Gwangju (meaning the City of Light) continues to shine not only as a beacon of liberal democracy but for the Korean people, but for people around the world. 


In the recent Hong Kong uprisings (Fall of 2019), student led protests on South Korean campuses called for the support of the Hong Kong democratic protestors. There were even clashes on South Korean campuses between South Korean students and Chinese exchange students (now 70,000 in South Korea). The Hong Kong democratic protestors even sang the famed "March” song of the Gwangju Uprising throughout the streets of Hong Kong. Gwangju, the City of Light, shines on as a leader of liberal democracy in East Asia. It is our responsibility to not only not forget the sacrifice, but to keep its promise with our own. A new generation of leaders is needed to fight this new wave of authoritarianism.