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Gwangju uprising contributed to S. Korea's democratization: poll

The 1980 Gwangju uprising played a significant role in helping move forward the democratization process in South Korea, a poll conducted by a memorial foundation showed Saturday.

   The May 18 Memorial Foundation said the nationwide survey of
725 people showed 65.8 percent of the respondents saying the
popular revolts and the subsequent bloody military crackdown in and
around the city of Gwangju helped the country's democracy movement.

Only 12.6 percent said it played no positive role.

   The foundation, set up to help victims and keep alive the
spirit of what is formally called the Gwangju Democratization
Movement, said the latest findings showed positive views going up
by 4.7 percentage points compared to the year before. It said
negative views edged up 2.5 percentage points.

   The poll showed women and people in their 30s-40s generally
giving recognition for the uprising's historic role in changing the
country from an authoritarian state to a full-fledged democracy.

   It added 62.3 percent of the respondents said the uprising
enhanced the country's human rights, up a sharp 8.4 percentage
points from a year earlier.

   The uprising refers to a popular resistance movement that took
place in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, from May 18
through May 27. During this period, citizens took control of the
city and demanded democracy as the military led by Gen. Chun
Doo-hwan moved to take power after the political vacuum left by the
assassination of President Park Chung-hee in the previous year.

   The foundation's latest poll, meanwhile, showed that 53.5
percent of the respondents believed the details of the tragedy have
not been fully revealed, with only 14.3 percent saying the official
probe was adequate.

   May 18 is a day of commemoration in South Korea with Seoul
having passed a law to compensate victims and to restore honor to
those who fought in the uprising. (Yonhap News)


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