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:
Human rights theme everywhere
May 18 Memorial Park
The old cemetery
May 18 Freedom Park
May 18 commemoration (parade and program)
Last but definitely not the least, the famous Gwangju dishes!