As noted in a report issued by the Martial Law Command, the students and "hot-blooded young soldiers" confronted each other, angry citizens joined in, driven by alleged rumors that the "soldiers of Kyongsang Province origin came to exterminate the seeds of the Cholla people. It heightened provincial hostility and marked the beginning of the rise of anti-American sentiment in South Korea. According to the report, the sequence of events was triggered by student demonstrations on the morning of May 18 in defiance of the new edict. Some Chonnam University students began demonstrating in the morning and by P. City police were unable to control the crowd.
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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 Korea , it is considered 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 on October 26, , a power void resulted that was filled by Chun Doo-Hwan , a 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, students, and opposition leaders, who began calling for democratic elections. 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. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today With the approval of the United States , which 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 to join in. As the uprising continued, protesters broke into police stations and armories to seize weapons. They armed themselves with bats, knives, pipes, hammers, Molotov cocktails, and whatever else they could find. They faced 18, riot police and 3, paratroopers. 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 lasted only six days. It took the military only two hours to completely crush the uprising. According to official government figures, nearly 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-Jung , who had once been arrested and sentenced to death for his role during the Kwangju Uprising, became the second democratically elected president; Roh Moo Hyun , who became president in , also had a connection to the uprising.
In Chun and Roh Tae-Woo had been convicted of mutiny, treason , and 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.
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. KwangjuKwangju, S. Nesnad The city has been a centre of trade and of local administration since the Three Kingdoms period c. Modern industries, including cotton textiles, breweries, and rice mills, began with the building of a railway from Seoul in From , with the construction of an industrial zone centring on an automobile factory, the city grew rapidly. Developments included storage and processing facilities for agricultural products.
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 Korea , it is considered 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.
Learn how and when to remove this template message Blockade of Gwangju, and further atrocities[ edit ] At this point, all troops retreated to suburban areas to wait for reinforcements. The army blocked all routes and communications leading into and out of the city. Although there was a lull in fighting between militias and the army, more casualties were incurred on May 23 when soldiers fired at a bus that attempted to break out of the city in Jiwon-dong, killing 17 of the 18 passengers. The following day, soldiers mistook boys swimming in the Wonje reservoir for an attempted crossing and opened fire on them, resulting in one death. Later that day, the army suffered its heaviest casualties when troops mistakenly fired at each other in Songam-dong. The former was composed of about 20 preachers, lawyers and professors. They negotiated with the army, demanding the release of arrested citizens, compensation for victims, and prohibition of retaliation in exchange for disarmament of militias.