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Yoon vows to advance freedom, welfare to uphold spirit of 1980 pro-democracy uprising

By Yonhap

Published : May 18, 2024 - 11:49

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President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a ceremony marking the 44th anniversary of the Gwangju Democratization Movement in Gwangju, 267 kilometers south of Seoul, on Friday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a ceremony marking the 44th anniversary of the Gwangju Democratization Movement in Gwangju, 267 kilometers south of Seoul, on Friday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol vowed Saturday to advance the freedom and welfare of the people as a way to uphold the spirit of the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in the southwestern city of Gwangju.

Yoon made the remark during a ceremony marking the 44th anniversary of the Gwangju Democratization Movement in the city located 267 kilometers south of Seoul. The ceremony was attended by some 2,500 people, including lawmakers from the rival parties and families of the victims.

"The entire people of South Korea heading into a happy, prosperous and hopeful future is the way to correctly inherit the May spirit in this era, and the path to truly honor the sacrifice and tears of Gwangju," Yoon said during the ceremony at the May 18th National Cemetery.

He said while political freedom in South Korea has increased since the movement, there remain many people without economic freedom.

"We must quickly grow the economy, restore the ladder of social mobility, and raise the level of freedom and welfare enjoyed by the people," he said.

"By fairly sharing the fruits of growth and more closely protecting the socially weak, we must open an 'age centered on the ordinary person and the middle class' where everyone is happy."

It marked Yoon's third straight attendance at the anniversary ceremony since taking office in May 2022.

On May 18, 1980, demonstrators, including students, protested against the then ruling junta led by Chun Doo-hwan, who seized power in a military coup the previous year. The military conducted a bloody crackdown on them, leaving hundreds dead. (Yonhap)