Full Article: http://korea.china-rouge.net/?p=232
Happy 63rd birthday Korean Constitution!
It may or may not surprise you to find out that Korea’s democracy as it is today is fairly new. Even as recently as the 1980’s the people of South Korea were protesting against dictator like presidents.
(photo credits: joongangdaily.joins.com)
One such event of protesting against a dictatorship was during the period of May 18th to the 27th in Gwangju.
The president at the time, Chun Doohwan, was a man who took control after a military coup and as such had a militaristic dictatorship. This coup happened December 1979.
At the time of the protest the group was labeled “rebels” and “communist sympathizers” by the Korean government. As of 2002 it has been acknowledged that this protest was in fact a democratic protest (joongangdaily.joins.com).
After the assignation of Park Chunghee martial law was declared and Prime Minister Choi Kyuha became president. Choi was overthrown in a military coup headed by Chun Doohwan. Since Chun gained his presidential power through a coup, the legitimacy of his presidency was questioned. College students began to have protests opposing Chun. On May 16th, it was decided by students of various universities that on May 22nd there would be a nation wide protest.
On May 17th universities were closed down due Chun imposing a heightened state of martial law. Political activity was also forbidden. Chun had done what he can to effectively squash protests. Troops were stationed outside all of Korea’s major cities, this included Gwangju.
The next day, students gathered around Chonnam National University and at 10 AM May 18th what is now sometimes referred to as the Gwangju Massacre officially began.
(photo credit: news.bbc.co.uk)
The protests were ultimately put down, harshly, by the Korean government. Special units troops were sent into the city and within 90 minutes the towns people had been defeated. This took place after over a week of protests and even after the protesters had gotten a hold of weapons.
Today, I want to do a history lesson and I figured what better place to start than Hangul: Korea’s alphabet. Hangul also known as “Great Script”, as coined by Ju Sigyeon in 1912, has had an interesting life.
It’s really hard to imangine Korea without Hangul but when it was first introduced by King Sejong there was actually a lot of resistance. The educated among Korea wanted to keep the Chinese writing system. Hangul was so easy that they claimed “even women can learn it”. It was given the name 암클 because it was largely used by women. (암클 means something like women’s script)