Friday, March 01, 2013

Happy Samil Day, Korea!

March 1 is an important day for Koreans. Known as Samil Day, literally meaning "Three-One-Movement" commemorating the date in March, it marks the anniversary of one of the earliest Korean protests of Japanese imperial rule in 1919. Inspired by US President Woodrow Wilson's speech nicknamed "Fourteen Points" which outlined a country's right to self determination, Korean students wrote up a statement seeking the same for their country.

The declaration was read at several places around the country that day. Needless to say, it wasn't welcomed by the Japanese, who issued a crackdown and arrested, tortured, and imprisoned many protesters at ensuing demonstrations. In one instance, village inhabitants were rounded up and locked up in a church, which was burned to the ground, with the Japanese shooting through the windows to make sure no one survived.

Eventually some points of the declaration were addressed and limited rights and freedoms granted. It wasn't until 1948, however, that autonomy was truly gained.

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