The month of May marks the anniversary of the brutal and bloody uprising in Korea’s southeastern city of Gwangju. Mid May, 1980, hundreds of thousands of students and citizens across Korea took to the streets to denounce military intervention in Korean politics. In Gwangju alone, demonstrators were met with severe and brutal military force -hundreds died and thousands more were injured. The media team will be traveling to Gwangju on the weekend of May 17-18 to participate in events commemorating the uprising- including a remembrance ceremony, a people’s gathering and various cultural events- in our effort to learn more about the history and politics of the uprising, the ways in which the legacy of the uprising currently shapes the politics of the region, and to connect with community members dedicated to the ongoing fight for democracy.
In May 2012, the team traveled to Gwangju and spoke with activist Lee Shin, a man who has dedicated his life to educating others about the true nature of the uprising, including the events that led up to it, unfolded after it and the role of the United States. His accounts are both incredibly chilling and powerfully inspiring, and shed light on the immense strength, bravery and resilience of a people. His words teach an important lesson- that remembering Gwangju involves more than just a remembrance. To remember Gwangju is to embody it; to hold its spirit in each of us as democracy continues to unfold on the Korean peninsula and around the world.
Below are the links to the full talk, in two parts, in both English and Korean. We will follow up with more comprehensive articles about the events taking place for 2013.