Friday, May 18th is a deeply solemn anniversary for the people of Gwangju and Korea.
On this day in 1980, 38 years ago, many innocent civilians in Gwangju who were demonstrating against the authoritarian government of Chun Doo Hwan were killed by government troops charged with suppressing the protests.
To remember the day, a government-organized ceremony for the 38th anniversary of the May 18th Democracy Movement was held, at the May 18th National Cemetery, in Gwangju.
Some five thousand participants, including bereaved family members of the victims, citizens, students, and politicians, attended the event.
The event featured a memorial concert, an offering of flowers to the victims and participants’ singing “March for the Beloved”, a song written in relation to the movement.
During a ceremony, Prime Minister Lee Nak Yeon said that those distorting what happened during the May 18 Movement will face the “judgment of truth,” apparently referring to former President Chun Doo Hwan.
Lee also expressed deep regret about the “criminal behavior” of the past government in the tank-led quelling of the uprising that left hundreds of people killed and thousands wounded.
Family members of those who helped promote the truth of the May 18 Democratic Uprising to the world attended this year’s commemoration.
Barbara Peterson, wife of late Rev. Arnold Peterson, Martha Huntley, wife of late Rev. Charles Betts Huntley and Edeltraut Brahmstaedt, wife of late journalist Jurgen Hinzpeter were also present Martha Huntley gave a commemoration speech highlighting her experience in Gwangju. She said during her 17-years in Gwangju, she fell in love, learned many lessons and had nothing but admiration for the people of Gwangju, adding she felt a heartwarming humanity during May 18 in 1980.
After the ceremony, the attending families visited the Hinzpeter Monument to pay their respects.
Edeltraut Brahmstaedt expressed her gratitude for having her husband’s memorial monument in the city saying he wished to be buried close to the youth who died during the May 18.
The entire month of May here in Gwangju is dedicated to the Democratic Movement with many other events happening later in next week. The 2019 Gwangju FINA Aquatics Championship will be hosting a special concert in conjunction with the Chosun Rose festival next Friday ~ stay tuned for more updates.
(For the latest local news updates stay tuned to GFN on www.gfn.or.kr daily)