Nowadays, various press media emphasize the importance of Korean history. However, the nation’s real level of awareness has never been worse. Not long ago, I watched a TV program. The reporter asked a university student. “Do you know who was the first president of Korea?” The university student answered “Maybe…Lee Soo-man?” Other university students even replied, “I don't care what happened in the past.” They remember holidays from abroad and the birthdays of idols, but they missed the most important things. Thus, I will offer some core information about Korean history in this article.
First, Korea came under Japanese colonialism. The fact that Korean history became severed was more tragic than the collapse of the Joseon Dynasty itself. After, the Japanese enforced military annexation of Korea, they began to oppress Koreans and exploit Korea’s economic resources. However, Japan’s cruel colonial rule was soon confronted with strong resistance by the Korean people. A fairly typical case was the March First Independence Movement. Koreans organized the nationalist movement in a peaceful spirit. Unfortunately, during the three months following the Movement, over ten thousand Korean were either imprisoned or killed by the ruling Japanese. Japanese exploitation and their barbaric treatment of the Korean people worsened.
On August 15, 1945 as Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces, World War II ended and Korea finally celebrated its liberation from Japanese colonialism. As soon as Korea celebrated its independence, the Korean people and their land were divided as the nation faced the tragic Korean War on June 25, 1950. Within just three days, the capital city of Seoul was captured and its government was forced to retreat to Pusan as the attackers continued to sweep southward. The United States dispatched UN forces comprising forces from 16 nations to aid Korea. In 1953, the Korean War between the two Koreas ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula technically still at war today. And it's important for us to remember this.
So, do you know who was the first president of Korea? The answer is Lee Syng-man (not Lee soo-man, who is a former singer and President of SM Entertainment). In the years following the Korean War, the Lee Syng-man administration focused on reconstruction and emphasized an anti-communism policy, while secretly pursuing plans for long-term rule. On March 15, 1960, Lee Syng-man’s administration committed illegal voting practices. The protests against illegal elections turned stronger during the April 19 Revolution. After these protests, Lee Syng-man was finally out of the saddle.
Former President Park Jung-hee is well known for developing the country’s economy and establishing an industrial base during the 1960s. He pushed Korea’s modernization forward by actively implementing growth-oriented economic policies. But In October 1972, Park’s government dissolved the National Assembly and proclaimed martial law throughout Korea (Yushin,, the October Revitalization Reforms). As a result, the repressive Yushin system unleashed strong resistance from the people. On October 26, 1979, Park was assassinated, drawing the curtain on seven years of the Yushin system.
History is very important. Korean history is pushing forward with a new vision for the future. To do that, it is now more important than ever to know our past well and pay attention to what has happened. From now on, we should try to understand our history correctly.
by Kim Jun-hyeok, reporter
Kim Jun-hyeok firstname.lastname@example.org
<저작권자 © The Campus Journal, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>