Actually, I had no idea around my 9th birthday, one of the most inhumane acts of violence and one of the most unintelligent political decisions was made in South Korea. Many Korean citizens complain about how the Japanese have taken over the country and raped their women. However, the incident in Kwangju where President Chun Doo-wan unleashed his military to kill over 200+ innocent people was even worse in my book since it was a time where Koreans killed their own brothers and sisters for what? So, they could manage the country better? So, a revolution could reverse what Chun did himself — take over the country via power? It was probably one of the most hypocritical actions in recent history if you analyze it somewhat deeply.
Last night, I was truly moved and angered after watching a movie titled “May 18” in English or “Hwaryeohan hyuga” in Korean or 화려한 휴가 in Hangul (Korea’s language of choice) released in March of this year (2007). While I heard about the “Kwangju Massacre” or what is now known as the “Gwangju Democratization Movement”, I had no idea how inhumane it really was. I encourage everyone to watch this, no matter what nation you are from or reside in. I hope a version in subtitles comes out soon. While it wasn’t the perfectly created cinematic experience, it was good enough to show what happened in G/Kwangju about 27 years ago.
The irony to the whole thing is that just the other day, an article was written about how the recent conservative party candidate elect visited Chun Doo-wan as his “duty of respect” since Chun “was” a President (oddly enough, he wasn’t ELECTED). As the current conservative party elected candidate Lee Myung-bak, candidates sometimes visit the previous presidents for potential voting capital. A picture was captured (above) that shows how “happy” this man was who indirectly killed 200+ people through his words and actions. Of course there are others responsible in the military and they should also be held accountable, but he had the power to “not do the terrible things he did in 1980.”
As much as I hate Chun Doo-hwan and all the people who made the decisions that probably killed the 200+ innocent people and believe his punishment should be enforced as it was once given to him before his pardon in 1997, I have to recognize the angelic actions of President Kim Dae-jung to forgive him despite being one of the victims of the incredibly stupid decisions Chun made. At any point in time or history, there are accusations from one side toward the other in terms of the advancement of society or doing good or bad. The fact that it changes hands from one side to the other in a very balanced manner gives me some hope, but I hope that there will never be another incident like this again where innocent people are killed because the systems we live in break down. The system in the 80’s is what gave Chun the ability to lead the military to kill inhumanely. Sometimes, we make the excuse “we can’t do anything about it,” but I call bullsh*t on that…we can always try to make things better. We should always try…otherwise, you may be one of the victims of your own lack of efforts.