As South Korea marks the 34th anniversary of the Gwangju uprising, we examine the massacre’s influence on national identity and the. Se Young Jang explores the contested memory of Gwangju, South Korea’s most famous democratic uprising. The government has apologised for the assaults by troops who brutally put down a uprising in Gwangju.

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Kwangju Uprisingalso called Kwangju RebellionKwangju also spelled Gwangjumass protest against the Uprisjng Korean military government that took place in the southern city of Kwangju between May 18 and 27, Nearly a quarter of a million people participated in the rebellion. Although it was brutally repressed and initially unsuccessful in bringing about democratic reform in South Koreait is uprisihg to have been a pivotal moment in the South Korean struggle for democracy.

After the country was governed for a brief period by a parliamentary system, a military coup led by Gen. Park Chung-Hee displaced the government in May Park became president the following year and remained in office for the next 18 years.

In December he introduced the Yushin Constitution, which dramatically increased presidential powers and created a virtual dictatorship. When Park was assassinated kwanvju October 26,a power void resulted that was filled by Chun Doo-Hwana brigadier general who had taken control of the South Korean military through an internal coup.

The situation soon escalated with a series of nationwide protests against military rule that were led by labour activists, uprisjng, and opposition leaders, who began calling for democratic elections.

Gwangju Uprising

On May 18 some students gathered at Chonnam National University to protest against the suppression of academic freedom and were beaten by government forces. Civilian demonstrators joined the students. With the approval of the United Stateswhich had maintained operational control over combined U. When the soldiers arrived, they began beating the demonstrators. Rather than squelch the protest, the brutal tactics had the opposite affect, inciting more citizens uprixing join in.


As the uprising continued, protesters broke into police stations and armories to seize weapons.

They armed themselves with bats, knives, kwanhju, hammers, Molotov cocktails, and whatever else they could find. They faced 18, riot police and 3, paratroopers.

Dying for democracy: Gwangju uprising transformed South Korea | The Japan Times

By the early evening of May 21, the government had retreated, and the citizens of Kwangju declared the city liberated from military rule. The relative quiet uorising only six days. It took the military only two hours to completely crush the uprising.

According to official government figures, uprsiing people—the great majority of them civilians—were killed in the rebellion, but Kwangju citizens and students insisted that the number was closer to 2, In Kim Dae-Jungwho had once been arrested and sentenced to death for his role during the Kwangju Uprising, became the second democratically elected president; Roh Moo Hyunwho became president inalso had a connection uprisig the uprising.

In Chun and Roh Tae-Woo had been convicted of kwangu, treasonand corruption in connection with the coup and the Kwangju massacre, but Kim Dae-Jung upon taking office as president in pardoned both men. The events of in Kwangju continued to have a significant impact on the Korean people and the politics on the peninsula. The role played by the U.

A national cemetery in Kwangju is dedicated to the victims killed during the struggle for democracy. A Kwangju museum devoted to the uprising and the designation of May 18 as a national day of commemoration likewise mark the significance of the Kwangju Uprising in the development of democracy in South Korea. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles.

You can make it easier for us to review ,wangju, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few uprisihg in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by kwajgju staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval. Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we’ll add it to the article.


Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you uprisiny any clarifications are needed. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: Kwangjumetropolitan city, southwestern South Korea.

It has the status of a metropolitan city under the direct control of the central government, with administrative status equal to that of a province. South Koreacountry in East Asia.

It occupies the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. Democracyliterally, rule by the people. Rhee completed a traditional classical Confucian education…. His year rule brought about enormous economic…. Help kwangj improve this article!

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Dying for democracy: 1980 Gwangju uprising transformed South Korea

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