Gwangju: the city of peace and human rights


Korea and the Philippines have a lot of similarities in history, such as experiencing martial law and having its people protest against dictatorship. One of the positive things I noticed in Korea is that the spirit of fighting for democracy is still very strong. Whenever I go to central Seoul, I always see demonstrations and campaigns. I especially feel very moved when I pass by Gwanghamun Square where the Sewol ferry demonstration’s been ongoing for a year.

When it comes to democracy, Gwangju city in Jeolla region is famous. Throughout Korean history, its people have had different struggles. In 1980, civilians had a peaceful demonstration (Gwangju uprising) against the military rule. Sadly, it ended with violence by the military. However, it inspired other cities to demonstrate as well. More than three decades later, Gwangju serves as a reminder of the countless number of people who strive for social justice. It now aims to be a city of peace and human rights.

Last May, it was a privilege for me and my classmates to join the opening of World Human Rights Cities Forum and the Gwangju Asia Forum 2015 in Gwangju. We participated in different sessions and visited historical places. Because it was the 35th anniversary of the Gwangju uprising, there was a huge parade and program at the downtown. Participating on that event was the most memorable part of this trip. I still get goosebumps when I remember the part where the families of the victims of the Gwangju uprising and the families of the victims of Sewol ferry incident went onstage and hugged each other. It was very touching and symbolic. I really hope justice will be served someday.

Here are the photos from the trip:

First time to ride the KTX!
Arrived safely in Gwangju station

Human rights theme everywhere




Kim Daejung Convention Center, the venue of World Human Rights Cities Forum
With the mayor of Gwangju
Formal OOTD with ate Christine at the Gwangju Asia Forum 🙂
Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. He was previously a UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in North Korea. I learned a lot from his session.
Group photo with MAINS current and previous students


May 18 Memorial Park


Memorial for the victims of the uprising


The old cemetery


May 18 Freedom Park

“recreation of the military training facility where citizens who fought for democracy against political soldiers during the Democratization Movement were imprisoned and where military trials were carried out”


May 18 commemoration (parade and program)



A moving performance calling for the raising of the Sewol ferry

Last but definitely not the least, the famous Gwangju dishes!


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