Kyungnam University: The Mecca of Democratic Movement
Kyungnam University: The Mecca of Democratic Movement
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  • 승인 2022.06.23 11:05
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Where did democracy begin in Korea? Or how long has it been since democracy was founded in Korea? About 40 years ago, there were many democratic movements throughout Korea; specifically, in June. This year marks the 76th anniversary of Kyungnam University (KU). So far, KU with such a long history has done many things for the development of Democracy in Korea as well as education. This article is aimed at shedding new lights on the impact and activities of KU in the process of development of Korean democracy Focus of the Month Kyungnam University: The Mecca of Democratic Movement By Kang Min-joo KT Reporter Kyungnam Times ● 21 In Masan on March 15th, 1960, presidential elections were under way and the whole cycle was looking bleak and unfair. There were people with armbands sent by party, and voting was being heavily monitored by them. This was to make Lee Ki-bung elected as vice president in case of President Rhee Syng-man’s death. And many other acts of sabotage were imposed to the democrats of Masan during the election. Then, the demonstration was held by democrats and citizens in Masan because of the rigging election (March 15th Rally). The violent suppression by the police made the protest which lasted about 12 hours stopped. It was the largest demonstration held since the establishment of the government. And the body of Kim Ju-yeol, who was a participant and disappeared during the March 15th Rally, was discovered in Masan Harbor. Plenty of citizens and students took to the streets and held demonstrations condemning the government. More than a hundred students at KU did street march after gathering at Masan City Hall. Jang Deoksoo, Chairman of the Representative Council of KU, issued a statement saying, “We will remember his death and continue this struggle.” in front of an inspired crowd at the Masan Provincial Hospital. Masan’s movements affected people across the country. On April 19th, 1960, there was a huge demonstration where over 200,000 people in Seoul got involved (April 19th Revolution). Several demonstrations were followed, which led to Rhee Syng-man’s resignation. The April 19th Revolution is very meaningful in terms of the collapse of dictatorship. However, change does not come easily. Finally, Jang Myeon established a parliamentary cabinet system. The government was criticized because it did not faithfully implement the demands of the revolutionary forces. As a result, a group of military officers led by Park Chung-hee seized power in a military coup on May 16th, 1961. Park Chung-hee government began a five-year economic development plan. On the other hand, it received criticism regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Japan, the dispatch of troops to Vietnam, and the YH trade incident. Also, the government created the Yushin system. Meanwhile, the Buma Democratic Protest, a large-scale demonstration in Busan and Masan, was held. On October 18th, 1979, students at KU gathered in front of the university library and started a protest demanding democracy. Later, a lot of citizens participated in it, which lasted until the next day. However, this demonstration was stopped because a guard order was issued and the meaning of the protest was distorted by some citizens and students with impure elements. The government was in conflict on how to suppress it. At last, Park Chung-hee was assassinated by Kim Jae-kyu, chief intelligence officer on October 26th, 1979. And a new military clique led by Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo initiated a military coup on December 12th, 1979. Following it, they seized power and carried out the 8th constitutional amendment whose main content was the extension of the presidential term to eight years. On January 14th, 1987, Park Jong-chul, a student at Seoul National University, was tortured by the police and dead. As this incident became widely known to the media, the police were severely condemned due to their attitude to cover up the fact. Meanwhile, the government announced that they would maintain the 8th constitutional amendment on 13th April. This caused nationwide movements with the slogan of ‘abolishing the amended constitution and overthrowing dictatorship,’ which is the June Democratic Uprising. Plenty of rallies for introduction of direct presidential election were held across the country in June 1987. Lee Han-yeol, a student at Yonsei University was killed by tear gas fired by the police amidst the protest on June 9th. This affected 6·29 declaration later. And on June 10th, a national convention was held. 22 Focus of the Month Kyungnam Times ● 23 The 6·10 demonstration was a simultaneous struggle of 240,000 people in 22 cities across the country. In Masan and Changwon started the demonstration around 6 p.m. However, it was on the brink of being stopped by the police. Then, students at KU and citizens changed the circumstance. After breaking the blockade, they moved toward the Masan Stadium. The number of the protestors was enough to fill a 16-lane road. Some demonstrations had been continued since the day. And a huge demonstration was held again (6·26 Peace March). It had lasted two days. Many protestors were injured because of violent suppression. Movements for democracy reached the climax during this time. Finally, on June 29th, the government declared democratization. In 1987, Kyungnam University (KU) held campaigns regarding the political situation. In March, an event was held to prevent subsequent torture and honor the death of Park Jong-chul at the 10·18 Square. More than a hundred students participated in it. In April, the forums and campaigns of the resolution to win a direct constitutional amendment were held. In May, influenced by the Gwangju incident, a photo exhibition and video screening of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising were held. About 3,500 citizens participated in it. It suggested that citizen as well as students had been paying attention to the Gwangju Democratic Uprising. Throughout history, people had strongly demanded democracy to make Korea a better place. Not only citizens but also students had strongly demanded democracy and truly grieved the death of the sacrificed during the process. Therefore, we should never forget many people’s sacrifice for the development of democracy in Korea and the crucial role of KU and its students for it as well.

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