Saturday, March 1, 2014

KOREAN HISTORY: Korean Independence Movement Day (2)

삼일절 (Samiljeol, the First of March or Korean Independence Movement Day)

The first of March, today, is a national holiday in South Korea, which is called Samiljeol (삼일절) or Korean Independence Movement Day, in honor of Samil Undong (삼일운동)1 or the March First Movement  of 1919. It was the day over 2 million Koreans stood up against Japan and its encroachments.  It is also called Samil Independence Movement or Samil Manse Undong or just Manse Undong (만세운동萬歲運動).2

Among those (approx.) two million twenty thousand Korean protesters, 7,509 people were killed and about sixteen thousand were wounded by the Japanese force during the protest. Most of the arrestees were imprisoned in Seodaemun Prison3 without trial.  Therein, they suffered grave injury, torture, ill-treatment, and even execution. 

1. Some of the Korean national holidays or historic events/days are customarily named in reference to the dates of their occurrence.  For example, Independence Movement is called Samil Undong, in which sam means “three” (i.e. March), il “one,” and undong  “movement or protest,” hence the name literally translates to “Three-One Movement” in reference to March 1, 1919, when the nationwide civil uprising against Japan happened.  Other examples are as follows:

Yugio (yug=6 thus June; io=25)

Sailgu (sa=4 thus April;

Oilyuk (o=5 thus May); ilyuk=26)

Sibiryuk (sib=10 thus October; iryuk=26)

Sibisibi (sibi=12 thus December; sibi=12)

Oilpal (o=5 thus May; ilpal=18)

2.  The word manse literally means “ten thousand years of life” or “live forever,” thus is usually used in hailing or wishing a long life for someone or in cheering just like English “hurray.”  Samil Undong is also called  Samil Manse Undong or Manse Undong because all the Koreans in protest marched hailing Manse meaning “Long live (Korea)!”

3. Seodaemun Prison still stands today as a constant reminder of what Japan had done to Korea.  It is open to tourists or visitors. (I found a website where you can see the pictures of the prison.)

To commemorate the day, I'd like to re-introduce my translation (from French into English) of Pascal Dayez-Burgeon's article, Japan-South Korea: "A Past That Does Not Pass" to you.


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