About 200 individuals gathered on the fringe of a snow-covered park in Midtown Manhattan on Friday to have fun the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of the Korean independence motion.
Waving South Korean flags and chanting “Manse!” (which roughly interprets to “Lengthy stay Korean independence!”), the group celebrated the scholars and different protesters who fought to shake Korea of Japanese colonial rule a century in the past.
In honor of these scholar demonstrators, significantly Yu Gwan-sun, who turned the face of the battle for freedom, dozens of ladies donned replicas of the white-and-black uniforms as soon as worn by Yu and her friends on the Ewha Haktang college for ladies in Seoul.
Ina Ko, 49, an architect from the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, was one in all a number of Ewha Haktang alumnae in attendance on the occasion on Friday, which came about at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza close to the United Nations. Ms. Ko, who graduated from the college in 1989, stated she had been influenced by Yu’s legacy.
“I believe unconsciously I realized the spirit of resistance, of working for one thing that’s a lot bigger than our particular person life,” she stated.
On March 1, 1919, Yu, then 16 years outdated, and 4 classmates joined others on the streets of Seoul in one of many earliest protests towards Japanese colonial rule.
On the urging of the organizers of that protest, Yu and her Ewha Haktang friends joined a March 5 scholar demonstration, the place they have been briefly detained by the Japanese authorities. The colonial authorities then ordered all colleges closed on March 10.
A couple of days later Yu smuggled a replica of the Korean Declaration of Independence to her hometown, Cheonan, about 50 miles from Seoul, and rallied residents within the surrounding villages to hitch the Samil (actually “three-one,” or March 1) Motion.
On April 1, 1919, three,000 individuals, together with Yu, gathered in Cheonan, the place they have been met with violence. The Japanese army police fired on the crowds, killing 19 individuals, together with Yu’s mother and father. The authorities quashed the protests inside weeks, however not earlier than an estimated two million individuals participated in additional than 1,500 independence marches, in accordance with Djun Kil Kim, the writer of “The Historical past of Korea.”
Yu was ultimately jailed, the place she continued to protest Japanese rule and was crushed and tortured because of this. She died of her accidents on Sept. 28, 1920, at 17 years outdated.
On Friday, William Chung, an 18-year-old highschool senior from Fort Lee, N.J., stated he determined to attend the occasion in Manhattan as a result of he believed it was essential to study concerning the historical past.
“I simply really feel nearly responsible that I don’t know extra about this,” stated Mr. Chung, whose mother and father have been born in South Korea. “I really feel prefer it’s nearly my accountability and my responsibility to return out right here and commemorate at present.”
Whereas Korea was not liberated till a long time later, the March 1 Motion occupies a particular place in South Korea for shaping a way of unity and igniting the resistance. This week, Yu was awarded South Korea’s highest medal of honor, in accordance with the information company Yonhap.
Japan has lengthy since apologized for its colonization of the Korean Peninsula, which it annexed in 1910, although deep resentments proceed to disrupt relations between the 2 nations. Korea was liberated in 1945, when it was cut up into North and South Korea, which have been occupied by the Soviet Union and america on the finish of World Conflict II.
In January, the New York State Legislature handed a decision commemorating March 1, 2019, because the “Centennial of the March 1st Motion” and honoring Yu’s legacy “as one of many youngest feminine human rights motion leaders.”
An analogous decision was launched this week in america Home of Representatives.