South Korea celebrates Day of restoration of light “gwangbokjeol”

Dance "Fly" held at the Historical Museum of Seodaemun Prison. Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.
By Rocío Rivas

Make 74 years, Korean radios in the press sounded the Japanese surrender. Era 15 August 1945, to 12 noon, when Emperor Showa spoke the words of surrender. It was a time of change.

After listening to their leader, hundreds of Japanese servicemen committed suicide, while continuing the path of freedom for the Korean people. Koreans call this independence day  “GwangBokJeol”, what does it mean in spanish: "Day of restoration of light".

This year, the government of the president  Moon Jae-in hosted at the Korean Independence Hall, the official commemoration ceremony of Liberation Day. The event was attended by 1,800 people, between citizens who participated in the independence movement or their descendants, representatives of the various sectors of society and foreign diplomats.

The rest of the population attended different events. The most symbolic of them was in Seodaemun Jail, where the activists who fought for the independence of their nation were held.

Concert in the courtyard of the Seodaemun Prison Historical Museum. Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.

In the current Seodaemun Prison Historical Museum the “Democratic Festival of Independence”. In said event, Kim Yugil 100 years and Jeong Hwanjin of 92, immortalized their footprints on a plaque commemorating being two of the surviving activists. further, the activity included musical concerts, conversations, tells stories and dances.

The dance for freedom, titled: “Volar” was the most moving of the presentations, and it was made on the wall of one of the prison pavilions. Seven dancers represented with their movements and gestures, the oppression experienced by their ancestors during Japanese rule.

Suspended with ropes they danced outside the cell windows, until you hear the sound of the audio recording of the surrender. To end, the dancers involved all the attendees and shared a huge hug with them.

Main entrance of the Seodaemun Jail Historical Museum. Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.

35 years in the dark

From the 22 August 1910 until the 15 August 1945, Korea was invaded by Japan. During this period of occupation, the Japanese used the Korean territory as their military base in WWII, taking advantage of the material resources of iron, coal and copper to make their weapons of war.

They also stocked up on Korean crops to feed the Japanese military., and forced the Korean men to be soldiers in the front line of attack against the enemies of the Japanese. Korean women, meanwhile, they were sexually enslaved.

Seodaemun Jail Historical Museum. Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.

During those 35 years, the Korean emergency government, trained in Shanghai in 1919 and independent activists for liberation, they fought the invaders and their allies.

The activists captured by the Japanese were sent to Seodaemun jail, where they were tortured and executed.

Right in this place, this day, new generations come together to commemorate the struggle of those who gave their lives so that Korea would once again be a free nation. A goal that was only achieved to a certain extent, well the month after obtaining freedom, Korea was divided into two nations: in the Choson / Joseon People's Democratic Republic, known internationally as North Korea and Daehan Minguk (Great Han People's Nation or Han Republic), recognized as South Korea.

Dance "Fly". Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.

Between 1950 Y 1953, both nations entered into an armed conflict, called "the Korean War" which caused the death of 3 million civilians. But as of 27 April 2018, both Koreas are in a stage of political rapprochement due to the Panmunjom declaration for peace, prosperity and “Unification of the Peninsula”.

Seodaemun Jail Historical Museum. Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.
Moment when Kim Yugil, of 100 years, y Jeong Hwanjin, of 92, perform the commemorative plaque. Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.
Cells inside the Seodaemun Jail Historical Museum. Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.
Photo exhibition at the Seodaemun Jail Historical Museum. Seoul, South Korea. 15-8-2019. photo VD: Rocio Rivas.