March 1st : Korea Independence Movement Day

???????? Sam-il-jeol

Also known as Korea Independence Movement Day, is a national anniversary commemorating the day (March 1, 1919) when the Korean people non-violently protested against Japanese colonial rule and announced Korea’s intention to become independent to all over the world by issuing a declaration of independence.

People shouting for independence

Encyclopedia of Korean Culture

What’s unique about Korea Independence Movement is that students initiated the movement on March 1, 1919.

Below is the core message of how the story actually happened. MUST READ!

The initial plan was like this : On Saturday, March 1, 1919, the independence activists will declare independence at the Tap-gol Park, a square that many Koreans gathered, and students will give out the copies of declaration of independence and the national flag of Korea to the crowds.

However, the plan had slightly changed since there were so many people at the park. The activists worried that the movement might trigger violence. So the independence activists, including 33 national

representatives, turned around and held a ceremony to declare independence in front of the restaurant called Tae-hwa-gwan.

The students, on the other hands, didn’t know about the change of plan. They were worried and scared since the national representatives didn’t show up. Some said they should just go back, but one brave man went up to the pavilion and recited the declaration of independence. The crowds were deeply touched by the statement and started shouting “Long live Korean independence!”

This event was the beginning of Korea’s three months long independence movement. The protests spread out to other regions and even to other nations around Korea.

Declaration of Independence

✏️ 1919 marked the 10th year of Japanese colonial period in Korea. The sorrow of Korean people was on the verge of bursting. (1919 was also the year after the World War 1 ended so the whole world was unstable.)

???? U.S. President Woodrow Wilson promoted the principle of “national self-determination” that allows a nation to choose its own political status.

???? Korean people gained hope through President Wilson’s words and thought if they show the world that Korea sincerely wants independence through protests, the world would help and guarantee Korea to win independence. (It was a period when the theory of diplomatic independence gained strength.)

???????? The independence movement began in Seoul on March 1st and spread nationwide until May. According to the history of the Korean independence movement, a total of 2 million people, 10% of the population, participated in this movement.

????‍???? The movement was a non-violent protest, however, Japanese soldiers responded with violence. 10 thousand people got arrested, 4.5 thousand people got injured, and 7 thousand people got killed (the numbers are estimated).

???????? Korean people shouted “Long live Korean independence!” and waved the national flag of Korea, Tae-geuk-gi.

Ryu Gwan-sun: Korea’s Joan of Arc

Ryu Gwan-sun’s prisoner identification card

“I can overcome the pain even if my nails fall out, my ears and nose are cut off, and my hands and legs are broken, but I can’t stand the pain of losing my country.” Ryu Gwan-sun

Ryu Gwan-sun, an independence activist, is one of the most symbolic and famous figures in Korea Independence Movement.

She was only 17 when she participated in the movement on March 1. Afterwards, she went down to her hometown, Cheonan, chungcheongnam-do, to spread out the rallies. She took the lead in Aunae market protest on April 1 and got arrested by Japanese soldiers.

She died on September 28, 1920 from injuries she got from cruel tortures in prison.

The Impact of Korea Independence Movement

The Washington Post on March 15, 1919

WASHINGTON POST ARCHIVE

???? The Provisional Government of Republic of Korea was established in 1919 as a part of Korea Independence Movement on March 1. It was located on Shanghai, China since Korea was under Japanese occupation.

???? The media from other countries covered the issues related to Korea Independence Movement. Korean people could inform the world how sincere Korea was towards independence.


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