The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs on Wednesday said South Korea was set to mark the 43rd anniversary of the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in the southwestern city of Gwangju.
Some 3,000 people are expected to gather at a national cemetery in Gwangju, 330 kilometers southwest of Seoul, on Thursday to commemorate the May 18 uprising, a watershed event for the country’s democratisation.
On May 18, 1980, demonstrators, including students, protested against the then ruling junta, led by Chun Doo-hwan, who seized power in a military coup the previous year.
The military conducted a bloody crackdown on them, leaving hundreds dead.
According to the ministry, the anniversary, 45-minute-long ceremony will be held under the theme of sharing the “spirit of May together with citizens.”
The ministry said the message was meant to uphold the spirit of the Gwangju movement to safeguard the values of liberal democracy and human rights.
It features a performance to console the bereaved families and a video clip of interviews with citizens highlighting their efforts to preserve the “spirit of May” and move forward to the future.
At the end of the ceremony, participants are to sing in unison the “March for the Beloved”, an iconic song representative of the nation’s past struggle for consolidated democracy.
Whether to sing the song together used to be a controversial issue in the past as some right-wing politicians shunned it, in part because it was favoured by their liberal rivals.
“We hope that the ceremony will serve as an opportunity to remember that South Korea’s democracy has firmly taken root, based on the sacrifice and devotion of Gwangju,” Minister Park Min-shik was quoted as saying. (Yonhap/NAN)