This blog may contain not-so-strong languages and slightly strong ecchi pictures. Please proceed with caution.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Finland-Korean Republic Diplomatic Relations

Kyobo Life Insurance Building in Gwanghwamun Area, Seoul Jongno-gu - Home for two Embassies: Finland and Austria.
Finland recognized the Republic of Korea on April 13, 1973 and diplomatic relations were established approximately four months later on 24 August 1973 with an exchange of notes. At the time, trade mission of the Republic of Korea had already been established in Helsinki on 26 April 1972 with the purpose of promoting trade between the two countries.

The Finnish ambassador to Tokyo, Osmo Lares was accredited for Seoul from October 31, 1973 onwards. Finland's representation in the Republic of Korea was handled from Tokyo, but the lack of a local mission was not perceived efficient enough to take care of trade relations. To improve the situation Kim Kak-choong was appointed as Honorary Consul to Seoul in October 1975. In the beginning of September 1976 Finland opened a commercial section of the Embassy of Tokyo in Seoul. Commercial secretary Heikki Latvanen was heading the office. He was appointed Chargé d'Affaires a.i. on November 1, 1978 when the embassy was opened. The main focus of the embassy was on politico-commercial affairs.

Visits of businessmen and trade delegations from Finland to the Republic of Korea increased at the end of the 1970s and the volume of trade between the countries grew significantly. Minister for Foreign Trade Esko Rekola made the first minister-level visit from Finland to the Republic of Korea in April 1980. The second Honorary Consulate was established in 1985 when Kim Young-won was appointed as Honorary Consul to the city of Incheon.

After Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Heikki Latvanen's period in office the first resident ambassador, Juha Puromies was appointed to Seoul from February 1986.

Suomi tunnusti Korean tasavallan 13.4.1973 ja diplomaattisuhteet solmittiin runsaat neljä kuukautta myöhemmin 24.8.1973 noottienvaihdolla. Helsingissä oli tosin perustettu Korean tasavallan kaupallinen edustusto jo 26.4.1972 edistämään maiden välistä kauppavaihtoa. Suomen Tokion-suurlähettiläs Osmo Lares sivuakkreditoitiin Souliin 31.10.1973 alkaen.

Edustautuminen Korean tasavallassa hoidettiin aluksi Tokiosta käsin. Paikallisen edustuston puuttuminen vaikeutti kuitenkin kauppasuhteiden hoitoa. Tilanteen parantamiseksi nimitettiin lokakuussa 1975 Kim Kak-choong kunniakonsuliksi Souliin. Seuraavana vuonna, syyskuussa 1976 Suomi perusti Souliin Tokion suurlähetystön kaupallisen osaston, jonka päälliköksi tuli kaupallinen sihteeri Heikki Latvanen. Hänet nimitettiin va. asiainhoitajaksi 1.11.1978, kun kaupallinen osasto korotettiin suurlähetystöksi. Suurlähetystön toiminta keskittyi pääosin kauppapoliittisiin asioihin.

Liikemies- ja kauppavaltuuskuntavierailut Suomesta Korean tasavaltaan lisääntyivät 1970-luvun lopulla ja maiden välinen kauppavaihto kasvoi huomattavasti. Ensimmäisen ministerivierailun Suomesta Korean tasavaltaan teki ulkomaankauppaministeri Esko Rekola huhtikuussa 1980. Toinen kunniakonsulivirasto maahan perustettiin vuonna 1985, kun Kim Young-won nimitettiin kunniakonsuliksi Inchonin kaupunkiin.

Va. Asiainhoitaja Heikki Latvasen virkakauden jälkeen Souliin nimitettiin ensimmäinen residentti suurlähettiläs, Juha Puromies, joka ryhtyi hoitamaan tehtävää helmikuun alussa 1986.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Streets of Seoul, Part IV: Eulji Avenue (Euljiro)

A certain Shu General collides with 7th Century Goguryeo General at Hanseong. I don't mention the name 'Seoul' in this case though.

Eulji Avenue a.k.a Euljiro (을지로/乙支路) is an avenue that stretches 3km (1.86 miles) from Seoul City Hall Taepyeongno Main Office in Taepyeongno 1-ga, Seoul Jung-gu to Hanyang Technical High School in the same district which intersects Toegye Avenue a.k.a Toegyero. The interesting fact about this avenue is located same direction with Seoul Metro Line 2 which connects Seoul City Hall Station to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station - starting and finishing points for Euljiro.

This avenue consists 6-lane motorway and bestowed from General of Goguryeo Dynasty, Eulji Mundeok (Hangul/Hanja: 을지문덕/乙支文德) who saved Goguryeo from Invading Chinese Sui Forces in 7th Century.

Euljiro is originated from seven areas in Hanseong (Old name of Seoul) during Joseon Period (1392~1910) which are:
* Gwangtongbang (광통방/廣通坊)
* Hoehyeonbang (회현방/會賢坊)
* Hundobang (훈도방/薰陶坊)
* Daepyeongbang (대평방/大平坊)
* Seongmyeongbang (성명방/誠明坊)
* Nakseonbang (낙선방/樂善坊)
* Myeongcheolbang (명철방/明哲坊)

Four years after Japan annexed Korean Empire, it is previously known as Kogane-cho 1~7-chome (Korean: Hwanggeum-jeong 1~7-jeongmok/황금정 1~7정목/黃金町 1~7丁目). In 1946, Kogane-cho is renamed as Euljiro - bestowed from General's surname of Eulji Mundeok. As you can see in Korean Republic Postal Code Directory, the postal codes for Euljiro 1~7-ga are from 100-191 to 100-197.

Euljiro is a legal precinct for three administrative precincts in Seoul Jung-gu: Euljiro-dong, Gwanghui-dong and Myeongdong. Euljiro 1~2-ga cover the Myeongdong Administrative Precinct while Euljiro 3~5-ga cover the Euljiro-dong administrative precinct and Euljiro 6~7-ga cover the Gwanghui-dong administrative precinct.

Seoul City Hall Taepyeongno Main Office in Taepyeongno 1-ga - Hana Bank Main Office - Lotte Hotel Seoul - Euljiro 1-ga Station (Euljiro Ipgu-yeok) - Korea Exchange Bank Main Office - Euljiro 3-ga Station - Sampoong Market - Daerim Market - Euljiro 4-ga Station - Hullyeonwon Park - National Medical Center of Korea - Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station - Hanyang Technical High School Intersection (3-geori)

Streets of Seoul, Part III: Sinsa-dong Garosu-gil

PSY, this girl will spice up for your next MV.

Indeed, there are lots of garosu-gils (“tree-lined streets”) in Seoul. Yet, Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong, Seoul Gangnam-gu is known among both citizens and foreign tourists alike, not just because it is a beautiful promenade in the middle of the city, but because it caters to unique cultural tastes and artistic sensibilities. It is located at DosandaeroBuk 5-gil (Dosan Boulevard North 5th Street) where this boulevard is bestowed from Korean Nationalist and President of Provisional Government of Korean Republic, Dosan Ahn Chang-ho (Born: November 9th, 1878 - Died: March 10th, 1938).

Adorned with ginkgo trees, Garosu-gil stretches less than a kilometer in Sinsa-dong, but is still considered a main area within the greater Gangnam area (business center in southeast Seoul). It’s true that Garosu-gil boasts splendid scenery in the spring and fall with golden ginkgo trees, but it dazzles visitors mainly due to its collection of quaint stores and its unique bohemian atmosphere.

Garosu-gil housed art galleries in the 1980s and small shops in the 1990s. During the last decade, modern stores began proliferating the streets, alongside a number of interior design shops. Its current makeup came from an increased number of stores run by designers, artists, and stylists who studied abroad and came back in throngs in the late 90s, early 2000s. 

The array of open studios, ateliers, cafés, restaurants, bars, fashion shops, and prop shops blend together for a chic cityscape. While other streets in Gangnam are said to be fancy and modern, Garosu-gil presents a fascinating dichotomy of the old and the new, the coolness of modern city life and the warmth of days gone by. Some people claim that Garosu-gil resembles Soho, New York; others liken it to a European street.

Garosu-gil embraces a more global mindset while preserving Korean sentiments. It is an ideal place for going on a date, hanging out with friends, taking pictures, and film-making. Garosu-gil will captivate you if you like to walk, have a cup of tea, or just simply look around. One caveat, though, is that there are three places in Seoul claiming the name Sinsa-dong with different Hanja Usages:
- Sinsa-dong at Eunpyeong-gu (新寺洞)
- Sinsa-dong at Gwanak-gu (新士洞)
- Sinsa-dong at Gangnam-gu (新沙洞)

If you take a taxi, let the driver know that your destination is Sinsa-dong in Gangnam-gu.

Streets of Seoul, Part II: Mugyodonggil, Hangover Reliever Alley

Eris likes dry pollack soup. As I expected: Cats.

Extract from hancinema.net:

For Korea's young, post-war generation during the late 1960s through the 1970s, Mugyo-dong in Seoul Jung-gu was "the place to be", according to Shin Dong-min, manager of Yonggeumoak, one of the oldest restaurants in the area.

"This area was filled with people who simply came to have a good time", said Shin, who operates the Korean restaurant that opened back in 1933. 

"Most of the time, people didn't even set a time to meet - they simply came to the area and hung out until late at night". 

For the younger generation who yearned to break free of post-war depression and experience something new, Mugyo-dong offered just that, with numerous restaurants, cafes and music lounges serving beer and playing Western pop and rock records. 

One of the most popular music lounges at the time, C'est Si Bon, was located in the neighborhood. The venue was where folk musicians including Cho young-nam, Song Chang-sik and Yoon Hyeong-joo first met and played music together. Later, these musicians would help shape the arc of modern Korean pop music with their Western-influenced folk rock. 

To this day, the street, stretching around 500 meters from Jungbu Fire Station with Mugyo-dong and Dadong on both sides, is flooded with restaurants, theaters and nightclubs, and includes some of the oldest, most popular specialty restaurants in the country. At present, the Mugyo-dong food alley is known mostly as a post-drinking hangout, with a lot of traditional hot-soup restaurants serving hangover-cure dishes. 

Inside Yonggeumoak, a couple of elderly folks huddled around a large wooden table, visibly immersed in a conversation about politicians.

"Back in the old days, this area was where all the press buildings and even the National Assembly were situated", Shin said. 

Although the restaurant serves a handful of different dishes, it is known primarily for its chueotang, or ground loach in hot bean-paste soup. The owner says the modest, classic recipe used more than seven decades ago is still used today. 

Nearby, Nampomyeonoak, which has been in the Mugyo-dong area for more than 45 years, features North Korean style soups and noodles including naengmyeon, or cold buckwheat noodles, and abokjengban, or beef and vegetable broth stew.

The restaurant had humble beginnings. In fact, when it opened it wasn't a proper restaurant at all, but actually the living room of the current manager' grandfather where the family served naengmyeon to friends and acquaintances. 

Abokjengban is a delicacy from North Korea that is often compared to sinseonro, served in a brass chafing dish for the royal family in Korea.

"If sinseonro is regarded as a gourmet meal, abokjengban is more of a dish suited for common folk, using ingredients that were easily affordable to the public" said Lee Jun-ho, the current manager of the restaurant. 

Not far from Nampomyeonoak is Bugeogukjip, which roughly translates to "the dried pollack soup house". Opened in 1968, the restaurant features just one item on its menu: dried pollack soup. Though the only garnishes of this simple soup are tofu and egg, the clean, minimalist flavor of the broth and chewy pollack bits ensures that customers keep coming back. The soup itself is made with beef leg bones boiled for 11 hours. 

According to owner Jin Kwang-sam, the customers at Bugeogukjip  are usually over 60 years old, but nowadays many tourists from Japan and the United States visit as well. 

"The food is very affordable and they give free refills for everything, including the rice, soup and side dishes", said Young Ji-eun, a regular at Bugeogukjip

"You'll regret it if you don't try this soup at least once in your lifetime". 

The restaurant is near the Cheonggye Stream, across from two other popular destinations offering simple menus at affordable prices: Won Daegutang and Woojeong Nakji, both in the same building. On the upper floor is Won Daegutang, also serving only one item on its menu - daegutang, or hot cod soup. Customers say that its deep yet refreshing broth, devoid of spicy heat, is a perfect cure for hangovers.

Hong Seong-pil, a close friend of the owner and a regular, revealed what he thinks were the first steps toward the Cheonggye Stream restoration project - that took place right inside the restaurant.

"Before President Lee Myung-bak became Seoul mayor, he had lunch at this place for almost a month and whenever he visited, he would look out that door", said Hong.

"I didn't know what he was up to then but now I realize he was planning the Cheonggye Stream restoration project". 

On the first floor of the building is Woojeong Nakji, one of the first places serving nakjibokkeum, or spicy stir-fried octopus, on this street. Currently, there are over five such restaurants serving nakjibokkeum and the street is sometimes referred to as "nakji alley", but according to regulars, Woojeong Nakji is the wonjo, or original. 

Over time, the area kept growing as the U.S. Embassy and multinational companies started building offices. Numerous restaurants serving Western food have popped up in Mugyo-dong - including Burger Hunter. 

With its all-American interior design and open kitchen, Burger Hunter is nearly reminiscent of a school cafeteria in the United States. 

The burgers themselves are handmade, served with potato chips on the side. 

"We use fresh ingredients that come in every morning, throwing out the rest at the end of the day", said Kim Mi-mi, the manager of the restaurant. 

Currently a chain restaurant, the establishment is doing well in its first year in Mugyo-dong, according to Kim.

Further up Mugyo-dong food alley and near the Gwanghwamun area are more restaurants serving European and American dishes, including Rosso Bianco. 

Opened in 2007, Rosso Bianco is a classy Italian restaurant, offering dishes with a specialty in pizzas. Starting this year, Rosso Bianco is using its new firewood kiln to deliver more authentic, homemade, Italian pizza dishes. 

Another European restaurant nearby is Italasian, sitting right across from Rosso Bianco. Italasian serves fusion Italian food, with a hint of Asian influences to suit the taste buds of Koreans. With both the sleek Gwanghwamun area and the more rustic Mugyo-dong side-by-side, the restaurant provides a panorama of this colorful area that deftly balances the new and the old, the traditional and the modern. 

Streets of Seoul, Part I: Toegye Avenue (Toegyero)

Moe Rise with Kissable Lips Korean Scholar.

Toegye Avenue a.k.a Toegyero (퇴계로/退溪路) is an avenue that stretches 3.5km (2.17 miles) from Seoul Station, Seoul Yongsan-gu to Hanyang Technical High School, Seoul Jung-gu which intersects Euljiro a.k.a Eulji Avenue. Toegyero is a part of Asian Highway Network No. 1 (AH1).

This avenue consists 6-lane motorway and bestowed from the Korean Scholar, Toegye Yi Hwang/퇴계 이황/退溪 李滉 (Born: 1501- Died: 1570). It is previously known as Honmachi (Korean: Bonjeong/본정/本町) during Japanese Colonization Period (1910~1945).

This avenue is a heaven for the bikers who seek bikers' apparels (helmets and gloves etc.) and new bikes. Prices for the bikes are cheap, starting from 1 million won (1000 won = 2.70 Malaysian Ringgit). You can add 1.5 million won more to buy Hyosung Bikes.

Seoul Station - Hoehyeon Station - Hoehyeon Intersection (4-geori) - Myeongdong Station - Toegyero 2-ga Crossroad - The Korea House - Chungmuro Station - Samsung Cheil Hospital - Toegyero 5-ga - Gwanghee Rotary - Hanyang Technical High School Intersection (3-geori)

About Toegye Yi Hwang
Yi Hwang (1501–1570) is one of the two most prominent Korean Confucian scholars of the Joseon Dynasty, the other being his younger contemporary Yi I (Yulgok). A key figure of the Neo-Confucian literati, he established the Yeongnam School and set up the Dosan Seowon, a private Confucian academy. Yi Hwang is often referred to by his pen name Toegye ("Retreating Creek"). His courtesy name was Gyeongho.

Yi Hwang was born in Toegye-ri, Dosan-myeon, Andong City, Northern Gyeongsang Province, in 1501. He belonged to the Jinseong Yi clan, and was the youngest son among eight children. A child prodigy, he learned the Analects of Confucius from his uncle at age twelve and admiring the poetry of Tao Qian, started writing poetry. His poem Yadang (hangul: 야당, hanja: 野塘, "Pond in the Wild"), written at the age of eighteen, is considered one of his major works. Around the age of twenty, he immersed himself in the study of I Ching and Neo-Confucianism.

He came to Seoul when he was 23 years old and entered the national academy Sungkyunkwan in 1523. In 1527 he passed preliminary exams to become a government official, but re-entered Sungkyunkwan at the age of 33 and socialized with the scholar Kim In-hu. He passed the civil service exams with top honors in 1534 and continued his scholarly pursuits whilst working for the government. He returned to his childhood home at the death of his mother at the age of 37 and mourned her for 3 years. He was appointed various positions from the age of 39 and sometimes held multiple positions including secret royal inspector, or Amhaengeosa (hangul: 암행어사, hanja: 暗行御史), in 1542. His integrity made him relentless as he took part in purges of corrupt government officials. On numerous occasions he was even exiled from the capital for his firm commitment to principle.

Yi Hwang was disillusioned by the power struggles and discord in the royal court during the later years of King Jungjong's reign and left political office. However, he was continuously brought out of retirement and held several positions away from the royal court and in rural areas. He was the governor of Danyang County, Northern Chungcheong Province at 48 and governor of Punggi afterwards. During his days at Pungi he redeveloped and improved the private Neo-Confucian academy Baekundong Seowon established by his predecessor Ju Se-bung.

He was named Daesaseong (대사성, head instructor) of Sungkyunkwan in 1552 but turned down other prominent offices later on. In 1560, he established the Dosan seodang and engrossed himself in meditation, study, and teaching his disciples. King Myeongjong tried to coax him back to political office, but he was steadfast in his devotion to study. He finally returned to the royal court at 67 upon the king's request when envoys from the Ming Dynasty came to Seoul. When King Myeongjong suddenly died, his successor King Seonjo appointed Yi Hwang as Yejo panseo (hangul: 예조판서, hanja: 禮曹判書, minister of rites) but he declined and returned to his home once again.

However, the king continuously called Yi Hwang back and unable to refuse further, he resumed office at the age of 68 and wrote many advisory documents including Seonghak sipdo (hangul: 성학십도, hanja: 聖學十圖, "Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning"). He also gave lectures from the teachings of Song Dynasty Confucian scholars Cheng Yi and Cheng Hao, I Ching, Analects, and Zhang Zai in royal presence. He finally retired from politics at the age of 70 and died in 1570.

During forty years of public life he served four kings (Jungjong, Injong, Myeongjong and Seonjo). On his death, Yi Hwang was posthumously promoted to the highest ministerial rank, and his mortuary tablet housed in a Confucian shrine as well as in the shrine of King Seonjo. His disciples and followers reorganized the Dosan seodang to Dosan Seowon in 1574.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dark Memoirs of Gwangju Massacre, Part II: May 18th National Cemetery in MangWol-dong, Gwangju Buk-gu

GRRAAARRRGHHH..... BRAINZZZT.  Wait. This moe zombie is paid by Gwangju Metropole Citizens to eat 'em both.
The Gwangju Massacre, also known as Gwangju Democratization Movement (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 광주민주화운동/光州民主化運動Gwangju Minjuhwa Undong) refers to a popular uprising in Gwangju Metropole, South Korea from May 18 to 27, 1980. During this period, citizens rose up against Chun Doo-hwan's dictatorship and took control of the city. In the course of the uprising, citizens took up arms (by robbing police stations and military depots) to oppose the government, but were ultimately crushed by the South Korean army. The event is sometimes called 518, in reference to the date the uprising began.

During Chun Doo-hwan's presidency, the incident was misrepresented by the media as a rebellion inspired by Communist sympathizers. By 2002, a national cemetery and day of commemoration (May 18), along with acts to "compensate, and restore honor" to victims, were established.

President Park Chung-hee, after ruling for 18 years, was assassinated on October 26, 1979. This abrupt ending of an authoritarian regime left Korean politics in a state of instability. New President Choi Kyu-hah and his Cabinet had little control over the growing power of ROK Army General Chun Doo-hwan, who took control of the government through the Coup d'état of December Twelfth.

The nation's democratization movements, which had been suppressed during Park's tenure, were again awakening. With the beginning of a new semester in March 1980, professors and students expelled for pro-democracy activities returned to their universities, and student unions were formed. These unions led nationwide demonstrations for an array of reforms, including an end to martial law (declared after Park's assassination), democratization, minimum wage demands, and freedom of press. These activities culminated in the anti-martial law demonstration at Seoul Station on May 15, 1980 in which about 100,000 students and citizens participated.

In response, Chun Doo-hwan took several suppressive measures. On May 17, Chun Doo-hwan forced the Cabinet to expand martial law to the whole nation, which had previously not applied to Jeju-do. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. To enforce the martial law, troops were dispatched to various parts of the nation. On the same day, The Defense Security Command raided a national conference of student union leaders from 55 universities, who were gathered to discuss their next moves in the wake of the May 15 demonstration. Twenty-six politicians, including Jeollanam-do native Kim Dae-jung, were also arrested on charges of instigating demonstrations.

According to the May 18 Bereaved Family Association, at least 165 people died between May 18 and 27. Another 65 are still missing and presumed dead. 23 soldiers and 4 policemen were killed during the uprising, including 13 soldiers killed in the friendly-fire incident between troops in Songam-dong. Figures for police casualties are likely to be higher, due to reports of several policemen, themselves being killed by soldiers for releasing captured rioters.

The government denounced the uprising as a rebellion instigated by Kim Dae-jung and his followers. In subsequent trials, Kim was convicted and sentenced to death, although his punishment was later reduced in response to international outcries. Overall 1,394 people were arrested for some involvement in the Gwangju incident and 427 were indicted. Among them, 7 received death sentences and 12 received life sentences.

The Gwangju massacre had a profound impact on South Korean politics and history. Chun Doo-hwan suffered popularity problems because he took power through a military coup, but after authorizing the dispatch of Special Forces upon citizens, his legitimacy was significantly damaged. The movement also paved the way for later movements in the 1980s that eventually brought democracy to South Korea. The Gwangju massacre has become a symbol of South Koreans' struggle against authoritarian regimes and their fight for democracy.

Beginning in 2000, the May 18 Memorial Foundation has offered an annual Gwangju Prize for Human Rights to a notable human rights defender in memory of the uprising.

The Story behind National Cemetery of Gwangju Massacre in MangWol-dong, Gwangju Buk-gu
At the Mangwol-dong cemetery in Gwangju where victims' bodies were buried, survivors of the democratization movement and bereaved families have held an annual memorial service on May 18 every year since 1983. Many pro-democracy demonstrations in the 1980s demanded official recognition of the truth of the May 18 and punishment for those responsible.

Official re-evaluation began after the reinstatement of direct presidential elections in 1987. In 1988, the National Assembly held a public hearing on the Gwangju massacre, and officially renamed the incident as the Gwangju massacre. While this official renaming occurred in 1987, it can also be found translated into English as Gwangju People's Uprising and Kwangju Rebellion.

In 1995, as public pressure mounted, the National Assembly passed the Special Law on May 18 Democratization Movement, which enabled prosecution of those responsible for the December 12 coup d'état and Gwangju massacre despite the fact that the statute of limitations had run out. Subsequently 8 politicians were indicted for high treason and the massacre in 1996. Their punishments were settled in 1997, including an initial death sentence, changed to a life sentence for Chun Doo-hwan. Former President Roh Tae-Woo, Chun's successor and fellow participant in the December 12 coup, was also sentenced to life in prison. But all convicts were pardoned in the name of national reconciliation on December 22 by President Kim Young-sam, based on advice from then president-elect Kim Dae-jung.

In 1997, May 18 was declared an official memorial day. In 2002, a law privileging bereaved families took effect, and the Mangwol-dong cemetery was elevated to the status of a national cemetery. Conflict is a democratic movement that had a major impact on the Gwangju establishment of democracy in the Republic of Korea, UNESCO has recorded in Gwangju Democratic Uprising.

Dark Memoirs of Gwangju Massacre, Part I: May 18th National Cemetery in Unjeong-dong, Gwangju Buk-gu

Yes, Alexandra. You have a right to blame two effing old geezers.

The May 18th National Cemetery (Hanja: 國立5·18民主墓地) in Unjeong-dong, Gwangju Buk-gu, which opened in 1997, contains a simple burial site for 325 civilian casualties of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising. It is also known as the National Cemetery of Gwangju Massacre in Unjeong-dong. What the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre is to China, the 1980 Gwangju Massacre is to South Korea, a mass demonstration and protest against an authoritarian regime which led by President Chun Doo-hwan with deadly consequences that became an icon for its time. Ironically, Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo masterminded this massacre.

Following large-scale student protests against military rule, on 18 May 1980 the army was ordered to move into Gwangju on the pretext of quelling a communist uprising. The soldiers had no bullets, but they used bayonets to murder dozens of unarmed protesters and passers-by. Outraged residents broke into armouries and police stations, and used the seized weapons and ammunition to drive the troops out of their city.

For over a week pro-democracy citizen groups were in control, but the brutal military response came nine days later on 27 May, when soldiers armed with loaded M16 rifles, supported by helicopters and tanks, retook the city. Most of the protest leaders were labelled 'communists' and summarily shot. At least 154 civilians were killed during the uprising, and an additional 4089 were wounded or arrested. Many of those arrested were tortured.

A small but emotionally charged museum shows photographs, and a hard-hitting video film gives a dramatic account of the traumatic events of over 25 years ago that still scar the country's political landscape. 'History which does not speak the truth and does not remember the past is bound to be repeated' is the message.

On the right a memorial hall displays photographs of the ordinary folk, from middle-school students to grandmothers, who paid the ultimate price during the military government's so-called 'crackdown on communists'.

A five-minute walk through the memorial garden leads to the reinstated original cemetery, where the victims were first hurriedly buried without proper ceremony. Later the bodies were dug up from the Cemetery of Gwangju Massacre at MangWol-dong in the same district and re-interred in the new cemetery in Unjeong-dong.

Bus 518 (around ₩900, 20 minutes, every 30 minutes) drops you off at the cemetery entrance, and can be picked up at the Gwangju Hospital stop, near the large Home Plus store, or along Geumnamno. Bus 311 (around ₩900, 15 minutes, every 15 minutes) runs from the bus terminal to Gwangju hospital.