Recently Korea has marked the 39th anniversary of the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Uprising, but it is yet to settle the bloodiest past. It is highly relevant and meaningful to commemorate the May 18 Democratic Uprising movement that sowed the seeds of modern democracy and freedom of expression in the Republic of Korea. However, it is unfortunate to see that Korean politics is still dividing the ordinary people for their political mean over the pro-democracy struggle by citizens of Gwangju on May 18, 1980.
President Moon Jae-in very straightforwardly said in his the May 18 commemoration speech stated that “the truth about the May 18 Democratization Movement cannot differ between conservatives and progressives”. Besides, he also said that “only the pro tyrant would see it differently”. President’s speech remarks a warning to an unabashed bid by the conservative opposition party who defame the May 18 Uprising movement and defame the victims of a bloody military crackdown.
There is no single reason for us to deny the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Movement and sacrifices of the May 18 martyrs for the people of Korea. As we know that a series of government investigations and neutral foreign citizens testified that the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising was purely students and public Uprising who rose up against the General Chun Doo-hwan-led military junta and did struggle for democratisation.
Even previous Korean legislative work was also done to define the significance and nature of the Gwangju democratic uprising. In addition, the Gwangju movement was officially declared as the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Uprising to reinstate honour of the May 18 martyrs. Furthermore, a special law was also enacted under the administration of President Kim Young-sam to restore the honour of the May 18 victims. In 1997, the May 18 Day was designated as a special national memorial day in Korea, and all Korean presidents attended the May 18 commemoration day at National Cemetery Gwangju.
In contrast, some political parties and individuals are continually struggling to divide the nation on this particular issue for their political and self-interests without an understanding of sacrifices of the May 18 martyrs, pain and trauma of bereaved families who lost their beloved and meaning of transitional justice.
Therefore, it is now time to shed more light on the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising which is spreading its Spirit in Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and all over the world. Thus, we urge all the political parties and common public to fully cooperate with the present administration to have free and fair investigation commission against the brutality of the tyrant. The rival parties should go beyond partisanship and support the imperial investigations all allegations like as secret burials of victims, sexual violence and the firing from helicopters on the May 18 victims. It is time to settle the past with great honour and honour the May 18 Spirit. Most importantly, that entire nation ought to make concrete efforts to move toward harmony, reconciliation and honour the sacrifices of the May 18 victims who sacrificed their beloved lives for the future of Korea. Only then can people of Korean may able to grateful what they owe to more than 200 Gwangju citizens who sacrificed their lives for the future of Korea freedom and democracy 39 years ago at Gwangju and awakened the whole nation.