A ceremony is under way for the construction of the Democracy and Human Rights Memorial Hall in the central Seoul district of Yongsan on Thursday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in on Thursday commemorated a historic pro-democracy uprising here in 1987, describing its spirit as a "noble asset" to be passed to future generations.
"The spirit of the June 10 Democratic Protest is a noble asset that should be inherited by future generations," he wrote on his social media accounts.
He was referring to an uprising, initiated by college students and joined by other citizens, against the authoritarian rule of Chun Doo-hwan 34 years ago. Many agree that the massive wave of protests served as a decisive turning point in South Korea's democratization, especially its introduction of the direct presidential election system.
Moon, a former human rights lawyer, noted the formal start of work to transform a notorious torture site under the Chun regime into a memorial hall. Many pro-democracy activists accused of having ties with North Korea, largely college students, were brought there for harsh police interrogations in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Moon administration is pushing to turn the building located in Namyeong-dong, central Seoul, into the Democracy and Human Rights Memorial Hall.
On Jan. 14, 1987, Park Jong-chul, a Seoul National University undergraduate, was tortured to death in the facility. The Chun regime tried to cover up the incident but it was belatedly revealed that interrogators had shoved his head several times into a tub of water.
On June 9 that year, Lee Han-yeol, a student at Yonsei University, was critically wounded after being hit by a tear gas canister fired by riot police during a campus rally against the cover-up of the reason for Park's death. Lee died on July 5.
The tragedy sparked wider protests, joined by office workers and other ordinary citizens, from June 10 against the Chun regime. (Yonhap)