The Kwangju Uprising

Kwangju Uprising

Another piece of US democracy-crushing, from 1980. I’m ashamed to say I knew nothing about this until recently. More violent than the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre (inspired by their Korean counterparts, copies of Kwangju literature were distributed to the Chinese as inspiration). Over 2,000 ordinary folk were massacred by the US-endorsed military dictator Chun Doo-Hwan, despite Chun’s defiance of the US military by moving troops from the DMZ back into the South for his own evil purposes.

Interesting that the bogeymen of the North, the excuse trotted out for all of the South’s repressive regimes, was forgotten when Chun wanted to kill his own people, eh? And what about that nice Jimmy Carter? Haiti and South Korea. Maybe that joke in The Simpsons was right after all.

Unfortunately, as it happened in a smaller city than the capital Seoul (the student leaders in Seoul surrendered and were, in some cases executed), it’s less known to the outside world. In Korea, it far outstrips the Korean War as the most significant event in the country’s history.

Oh, and Seoul got the 1988 Olympic Games (awarded in September 1981). How the fuck did THAT happen?

The Uprising, and the way that ordinary people came together and abandoned the social structure that had been forced on them, is held up as an excellent example of Humanities scholar George Katsiaficas’ Eros Effect. A good example of this was the complete lack of looting after the soldiers were forced out, instead there was a concerted effort to pool resources. Housewives prepared mass banquets for protesters, taxi drivers, despite being badly beaten for removing the wounded, formed a cordon the following day that smashed through the line of soldiers and ordinary citizens everywhere stood up and were counted. Not quite a happy ending, but an encouraging note.

Don’t worry, more knob gags and stories about The Legend will follow soon.


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