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[Newsmaker] Memorial ceremony held in Gwangju to remember victims of 1980 pro-democracy uprising

A memorial service was held in Gwangju on Friday to remember the victims of a 1980 pro-democracy uprising in the southwestern city.

Hundreds of bereaved family members and relatives attended the memorial service held at the May 18th National Cemetery in Gwangju, about 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on the eve of the 39th anniversary of the 1980 Gwangju Democratization Movement.


At the traditional Korean memorial service, Gwangju Mayor Lee Yong-seop and other local dignitaries delivered addresses with representatives of the May 18 Bereaved Family Association in attendance.

"We still have a long way to go to rectify history. On behalf of all citizens, I pledge before the spirits of all victims that all possible efforts will be made to enact a bill on the punishment of those who distort history in order to ensure any distortion of the May 18 movement-related history is not repeated," Lee said.

On May 18, 1980, thousands of Gwangju citizens rose up against the military junta in power at the time, led by Gen. Chun Doo-hwan, who seized power in an internal coup following the assassination of his mentor, President Park Chung-hee, eight months earlier.

The junta sent tank-led paratroopers to crack down on the nine-day revolt. More than 200 people were killed and 1,800 others wounded.


Chung Chun-sik, chairman of the May 18 Bereaved Family Association, lamented that many ultraconservative figures are openly trying to distort the history of the Gwangju uprising.

"Chun is a criminal who was prosecuted for the massacre in Gwangju in 1980. But he has been seeking to distort history instead of repenting for his wrongdoings," Chung said, vowing full efforts to uncover the truth behind the Gwangju Democratization Movement. (Yonhap)