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THE MAY 18
MEMORIAL FOUNDATION

Chronology

1979
  • Feb. 5 “An Evening for Arrested Writers” is held at the YMCA in Gwangju.
  • March 1 Dissent leaders, including Yun Po-sun, Ham Suk-hun and Kim Dae-jung, form the National Coalition for Democracy and National Unification.
  • June 1 Kim Dae-jung continues to be put under house arrest.
  • June 15 Forty-eight inmates at Gwangju Prison, including professor Sung Rae-woon and the Rev. Ko Young-keun, launch a hunger strike.
  • Aug. 11 Police break up a sit-in protest by 170 workers of YH trading company at the New Democratic Party. Kim Kyung-suk dies.
  • Aug. 20 Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan leads a Catholic priests’ march toward the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
  • Sept. 4 University students in Daegu demonstrate to demand an end to the Yushin dictatorship. Many are arrested.
  • Sept. 20 About 1,000 Seoul National University students clash with riot police after demanding political freedom.
  • Sept. 26 Thousands of students from Korea, Ewha and Yonsei universities stage a street demonstration.
  • Oct. 4 Lawmakers of the Democratic Republican Party expels opposition leader Kim Young-sam from the National Assembly.
1980
  • March 29 About 2,000 Chosun University students issue a statement that demands freedom to student activities.
  • April 3 Seoul National University students hold a sit-in protest, demanding freedom for student activities.
  • April 21 About 700 miners in Sabuk clash with the police.
  • April 24 Three hundred sixty-one professors from 14 universities in Seoul issue a statement regarding the unrest at campuses.
  • May 4 The National Coalition for Democracy and National Unification issues a statement that demands freedom to universities and the end to martial law.
  • May 14 Leaders of 27 university student councils decide to stage street demonstrations.
  • May 15 About 70,000 students from 30 universities in Seoul hold street demonstrations late into the evening.
  • May 17 Ninety-five student leaders from 55 universities are detained during a meeting.
  • May 18 Martial law is expanded throughout the entire country, banning political activities and shutting down universities. Kim Young-sam is put under house arrest, while Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil are detained.
  • May 18 The Gwangju Uprising starts. About 600 students from Chonnam National University throw rocks at the Seventh Special Warfare Brigade.
  • May 19 The military sends the 11th Special Warfare Brigade into Gwangju. Protests against excessive use of force escalate.
  • May 20 More troops arrive from the Third Special Warfare Brigade and the 20th Infantry Division. About 200 drivers mobilize their taxis for a demonstration on Geumnam Street.
  • May 21 Special warfare troops open fire. The militia takes control of the Provincial Government Office.
  • May 22 Protests spread to neighboring cities of Mokpo, Naju, Hwasun and Haenam.
  • May 23 Gen. John Wickam, commander of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, agrees to the mobilization of troops to suppress demonstrations in Gwangju.
  • May 24 Having declared “Liberated Gwangju,” citizens continue to hold mass rallies daily.
  • May 25 Martial law troops who were pushed out of the city impose a blockade and kill civilians.
  • May 26 The Citizens’ Controlling Committee negotiates with martial law officers.
  • May 27 About 20,000 troops take control of the Provincial Government Office and other parts of the city through a bloody operation.
  • Aug. 16 Acting President Choi Kyu-hah, who headed the interim government, resigns.
  • Aug. 21 Military leaders recommend Chun Doo-hwan as the next president.
  • Aug. 27 Chun Doo-hwan is elected the nation’s 11th president.
  • Sept. 17 A court martial sentences Kim Dae-jung to death for rebellious activities and violating the National Security Law.
  • Nov. 14 Dong-a and Dong Yang Broadcasting companies are merged into KBS. Some national and local newspapers are shut down.
1981
  • Jan. 28 President Chun Doo-hwan visits the United States at the invitation of President Ronald Reagan.
  • Feb. 25 Chun Doo-hwan, of the Democratic Justice Party, is elected the 12th president.
1982
  • March 18 A group of university students, including Mun Bu-sik, set fire to the U.S. Information Service building in Busan.
  • April 8 Five people, including Father Choi Ki-sik, a Roman Catholic priest, are arrested for helping Kim Hyun-jang hide. Kim was involved in the attack on the Busan USIS.
  • April 16 A Roman Catholic committee headed by Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan issues a statement that says Father Choi did his best as a priest.
  • Aug. 10 Mun bu-sik and Kim Hyun-jang are sentenced to death.
  • Oct. 12 Park Gwan-hyun, who led the Chonnam National University Student Council during the Gwangju Uprising, dies in Gwangju Prison.
  • Oct. 23 Kim Dae-jung leaves for the United States after being released from jail.
    1983
    • May 18 Kim Young-sam launches a hunger strike.
    • Sept. 22 The U.S. Information Service in Daegu is attacked by a privately made bomb.
    • Dec. 21 The government allows students who were expelled from universities for anti-government activities to be reinstated for the spring semester of 1984.
    1984
    • March 24 Seoul National University allows students to form a committee to expand on-campus freedom.
    • April 13 Students from 55 universities across the country demonstrate to demand campus freedom.
    • May 18 The Committee for Promoting Democratization is inaugurated.
    • Oct. 24 About 6,400 police troopers enter Seoul National University at the request of university officials.
    • Nov. 3 An official ceremony for “Students Day” is held for the first time in 11 years.
    • Nov. 3 Student leaders from 42 universities gather at Yonsei University to form a national coalition for anti-dictatorship and pro-democracy struggle.
    • Nov. 13 A group of Seoul National University students demonstrates at Guro Industrial Complex, demanding guarantee of labor rights.
    1985
    • Jan. 7 Twenty-two dissidents, including Ham Suk-hun, Bishop Chi Hak-sun and the Rev. Kim Jae-jun, form a forum of dissident leaders.
    • Feb. 8 Kim Dae-jung returns home and is greeted by about 50,000 supporters.
    • Feb. 25 The Catholic Committee for Justice and Peace launches a campaign against the Basic Press Act.
    • April 17 Twenty-six student leaders from 26 universities form the National Federation of Students.
    • May 17 About 38,000 students from 80 universities hold a violent demonstration, demanding investigations into the military massacre of civilians in Gwangju.
    • May 23 Students end the occupation of the U.S. Information Service in Seoul.
    • May 29 Novelist Hwang Sok-yong is detained by police over his documentary work “Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Times.”
    • Aug. 1 A group of 401 writers issues a statement that demands freedom of expression.
    • Aug. 15 Hong Gi-il, a labor activist, burns himself to death in Gwangju.
    • Oct. 17 About 60 dissidents, including the Rev. Moon Ik-hwan, form a committee on tortures of pro-democracy activists and fabrication of communist charges against activists.
    • Nov. 21 About 2,000 students from 10 universities in Seoul hold a rally, demanding an end to dictatorship and the repeal of the Fifth Republic Constitution.
    • Dec. 2 Ten students from Chonnam National University and Chonbuk National University occupy the U.S. Information Service in Gwangju. They demand that the United States stop pressuring Korea to open its markets.
    1986
    • Feb. 11 The Korean National Council of Churches and other Christian organizations launch a campaign to boycott KBS TV’s viewing fees.
    • March 1 A total of 125 Roman Catholic churches in the Seoul Diocese hold simultaneous prayers for justice and peace.
    • April 7 The Korean Bar Association forms a study group that deals with the constitutional amendment and demand revision of the Constitution.
    • April 16 A group of 43 Chonnam National University professors issues a statement that calls for democracy.
    • April 28 Seoul National University students Lee Jae-ho and Kim Se-jin burn themselves to death, shouting “No to war!” and “No to nuclear weapons!”
    • May 3 A total of 129 people are arrested after about 5,000 students and workers clashed with riot police in Incheon.
    • May 8 A group of Christian ministers issues a statement that demands democracy.
    • May 9 A total of 152 Buddhist priests of the Jogye Order issue a statement on democracy.
    • May 10 A total of 546 members of the YMCA Secondary School Teachers’ Association issue a statement that demands democratization in education.
    • May 14 About 2,000 students from six universities in Jeolla Province form an alliance.
    • May 16 About 2,000 bereaved family members of the victims of the Gwangju Uprsing take to Geumnam Street after celebrating Mass at Nam-dong Catholic Church in Gwangju.
    • May 17 University students from across the country hold demonstrations in commemoration of the Gwangju Uprising.
    • May 18 About 1,000 students and bereaved families hold a demonstration after a ceremony at Mangwoldong Cemetery in memory of the victims of the May 18 Gwangju Uprising.
    • May 18 About 1,000 young Roman Catholics take to the streets after celebrating Mass at Myongdong Cathedral.
    • May 20 Seoul National University student Lee Dong-su burns himself to death during a lecture by the Rev. Moon Ik-hwan. He shouted, “U.S. Imperialists Go Away.”
    • May 27 A memorial monument for the Gwangju Uprising is set up at Hanshin University, the first at a university.
    • May 31 About 350 teachers hold a rally at Myongdong Cathedral, vowing to produce an educational system that is independent of political power.
    • June 21 A total of 229 members of the Honam YMCA Secondary School Teachers’ Association hold a rally for democracy in education at the Catholic Center in Gwangju.
    • Aug. 12 About 10 bereaved family members of activists who killed themselves form an association.
    • Sept. 7 About 2,000 Buddhist monks of the Jogye Order demonstrate at the Haein Temple.
    • Oct. 28 About 2,000 students from 26 universities start a sit-in protest at Konkuk University after launching a national alliance.
    1987
    • Jan. 14 Seoul National University student Park Jong-chul is tortured to death during a police investigation.
    • Feb. 7 Police arrest 799 demonstrators in major cities. They defied a ban that was placed on memorial services for Park Jong-chul.
    • April 10 Kim Dae-jung is put under house arrest.
    • April 13 In a special address, President Chun Doo-hwan says he would hand over power under the current Constitution instead of electing the next president in a direct vote.
    • April 14 Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan criticizes Chun’s April 13 address in his Easter message. The Korean National Council of Churches also criticizes Chun’s decision not to amend the Constitution.
    • April 21 Thirteen Roman Catholic priests in Gwangju start a hunger strike, demanding the amendment of the Constitution for direct election of the next president.
    • April 27 About 40 Catholic priests in Seoul, 19 Protestant ministers in Jeollanam-do and about 80 Catholic nuns in Gwangju join the hunger strike.
    • April 29 A total of 193 writers and critics issue a statement that demands election of the next president through a direct popular vote. Sixteen Catholic priests also issue a statement.
    • May 17 Ceremonies and memorial services marking the seventh anniversary of the Gwangju Uprising are held at Mangwoldong Cemetery and 62 universities nationwide.
    • May 20 About 90 Buddhist monks and laypeople hold a sit-in demonstration at Gaeun Temple to protest against the police raid of Wongak Temple in Gwangju.
    • May 23 A total of 134 dissidents, including the Rev. Park Hyung-kyu, Song Kun-ho and professor Song Rae-un, form a national committee that deals with the murder of Park Jong-chul. They decide to hold a rally on June 10.
    • May 27 A total of 2,191 people, including members of the Democratic Party, Catholics, Protestants and dissidents, launch a coalition for the direct election of the next president.
    • May 27 The Seoul National University Student Council decides to boycott classes and demands an investigation into Park Jong-chul’s death. It also calls for the withdrawal of Chun’s April 13 announcement not to amend the Constitution.
    • May 30 Eighteen women’s groups launch an alliance to battle KBS TV’s viewing fees.
    • June 10 A total of 3,851 students are detained by the police after pro-democracy demonstrations swept through 18 major cities nationwide. The demonstrations became known as the June 10 Pro-Democracy Movement.
    • June 11 About 350 demonstrators who participated in the previous day’s demonstrations continue to protest at Myongdong Cathedral.
    • June 18 A national pro-democracy alliance holds rallies in major cities to demand an end to the use of tear gas.
    • June 20 A total of 105 teachers from 51 middle and high schools in Seoul issue a statement that demands democracy in education.
    • June 22 About 70 professors from 30 universities form a national association.
    • June 26 Demonstrations in 37 cities draw the largest number of people since June 10. Police round up 3,467 demonstrators.
    • June 29 Roh Tae-woo, executive chairman of the ruling Democratic Justice Party, issues the June 29 Declaration, which promises direct election of the next president, amnesty to Kim Dae-jung and six other democratic reform measures.
    • July 5 Yonsei University student Lee Han-yeol, who was hit by a tear gas shell during the June 9 demonstration, dies.
    • July 10 President Chun steps down as president of the Democratic Justice Party.
    • July 21 About 80 professors from 28 universities launch a national alliance.
    • Aug. 19 About 3,500 students from 95 universities form a national coalition.
    • Aug. 22 Lee Suk-kyu, who worked for Daewoo Shipyard on Geoje Island, dies after being hit by a police-fired tear gas shell.
    • Oct. 27 The constitutional amendment for direct election of the president is approved in a referendum, with 93.1 percent of voters in support.
    • Oct. 28 Kim Dae-jung announces his presidential bid and plans to create a new political party.
    • Nov. 18 About 700 students from 16 universities hold a rally at Konkuk University to thwart Roh’s move to succeed Chun.
    • Dec. 16 Voters cast ballots to elect the nation’s 13th president.
    1988
    • Feb. 25 Roh Tae-woo is inaugurated as the nation’s 13th president.
    • April 1 About 9,000 workers at Daewoo Shipyard launch a strike, demanding a pay raise.
    • May 15 Seoul National University student Cho Seong-man jumps to his death at Myongdong Cathedral. He demanded the immediate release of dissidents.
    • May 16 The committee for Gwangju Uprising’s memorial monument and commemorative events issues a statement, demanding investigations into the crackdown on the Uprising and the legislation of a special act to restore the victims’ honor.
    • May 29 Human rights lawyers launch the Lawyers for a Democratic Society.
    • June 10 Police thwart a meeting between North and South Korean students.
    • June 14 About 1,200 students from three universities, including Korea University, hold a unification rally at Imjingak.
    • Sept. 8 Twenty-one teachers in Yeosu form the nation’s first association of primary school teachers.
    • Oct. 25 A committee on Samcheong Education Camp demands the appointment of an independent panel to investigate the operation of a prison-like social rehabilitation program.
    • Oct. 27 A group of Buddhists marks the eighth anniversary of the excessive use of police force during a demonstration at a temple. They demand investigations and punishments for responsible officials.
    • Nov. 17 About 10,000 farmers demonstrate in Yeuido against the opening of the domestic farm market.
    • Nov. 21 About 10,000 teachers hold a rally in Yeuido, demanding a democratic revision of education laws.
    • Nov. 26 Kwon Young-khil is elected the first president of the National Union of Media Workers, which comprises the labor unions of 41 news media companies.
    1989
    • Jan. 16 Choi Young-sin, a sergeant of special warfare forces during the Gwangju Uprising, makes a “declaration of conscience,” which discloses the brutality of the military.
    • Jan. 18 About 50 Chonnam National University students and about 200 Chosun University students raid the U.S. Information Service and the local prosecutors’ office in Gwangju, respectively.
    • Jan. 21 The National Alliance for National and Democratic Movement is launched.
    • Feb. 23 The National Federation of University Student Councils announces its plan to participate in an international youth festival in Pyongyang.
    • March 1 The National Federation of Farmers’ Movement is launched.
    • March 25 The Rev. Moon Ik-hwan makes a surprise visit to North Korea.
    • May 3 Six riot policemen are killed while suppressing a student demonstration at Dong-Eui University in Busan. The university is shut down.
    • May 10 Chosun University student Lee Cheol-kyu is found dead.
    • May 18 A group of 854 professors from seven universities in Gwangju and Jeollanam-do demand punishment for those responsible for the 1980 massacre in Gwangju.
    • May 28 The Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union elects Yoon Young-kyu, a physical education teacher at Chonnam Physical Education High School, as its first president. Twenty-six leaders launch a hunger strike at the Democratic Party to demand legalization of the union and the release of detained teachers.
    • June 21 About 200 people, including film directors and actors, hold a rally at Daehangno to protest the direct distribution of U.S. films by the UIP.
    • June 24 About 400 Chosun University students raid the local prosecutors’ office in Gwangju, demanding investigations into the cause of Lee Cheol-kyu’s death.
    • June 30 Lim Soo-kyung, a representative of the National Federation of University Student Councils, arrives in Pyongyang to participate in an international youth festival.
    • July 7 Lim Soo-kyung and Kim Chang-ryong, chairman of the North Korean Student Committee, issue a joint statement.
    • July 19 About 30 Buddhist monks, including the Rev. Jinwan, form a committee against the suppression of Buddhism and demand the release of the Rev. Jiseon and other Buddhists taken into police custody.
    • July 20 About 15,000 students from 23 high schools in Gwangju join teachers for rallies at Chonnam National University and Daedong High School to protest the disciplinary actions taken against members of the teachers’ union.
    • July 26 Father Moon Kyu-hyun, a Roman Catholic priest, arrives in Pyongyang to escort Lim Soo-kyung back home.
    • Aug. 1 The Doctors for Humanitarianism claims that residents in Yeonggwang were contaminated by radiation that leaked from a nuclear reactor.
    • Aug. 5 Byun Hyung-yoon and 46 other Seoul National University professors demand the government not to oppress the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union.
    • Aug. 15 Lim Soo-kyung and Father Moon Kyu-hyun return to South Korea via Panmunjeom.
    • Aug. 30 The trade unions of KBS, MBC and CBS broadcasting networks form a committee to repeal existing broadcasting laws.
    1990
    • May 18-27 A total of 41 organizations hold events commemorating the Gwangju Uprising.
    1991
    • April 26 Myongji University student Gang Gyeong-dae is killed by riot police troopers during a demonstration.
    • May 26 About 200,000 people attend the funeral of Park Seung-hi, a Chonnam National University student who burned himself to death. A total of 13 people die during pro-democracy demonstrations and incidents in May. The dead include Gang Gyeong-dae, Park Seung-hi Kim Young-gyun, Cheon Se-yong, Park Chang-soo, Kim Gi-seol, Yoon Yong-ha, Lee Jeong-soon, Kim Chul-soo, Jeong Sang-soon, Kim Gui-jeong, Lee Jin-hee, and Seok Gwang-soo.
    1992
    • May 19 Kim Young-sam, of the Democratic Liberal Party, is elected a presidential candidate.
    • May 26 Kim Dae-jung, of the Democratic Party, is elected a presidential candidate.
    1993
    • Feb. 25 Kim Young-sam is sworn in as the nation’s 14th president. He launches the “Civilian Government.”
    • March 18 Demonstrators block President Kim Young-sam from visiting Mangwoldong Cemetery. The protesters were angered by his comment: “Let the truth stay in the care of history.”
    1994
    • A campaign is launched to indict those responsible for the military massacre of civilians during the Gwangju Uprising.
    • Aug. 30 The May 18 Memorial Foundation is established.
    • Oct. 19 Lawmaker Kim Sang-hyun and 22 bereaved family members of Gwangju victims ask prosecutors to investigate Chun Doo-hwan, Roh Tae-woo and eight others, charging them with mutiny, treason and murder.
    1995
    • July A committee is formed to seek justice against those who played leading roles in the Gwangju massacre. About 150 people participate in a sit-in protest at Myongdong Cathedral. The Lawyers for a Democratic Society files perjury charges against seven people, including Chun Doo-hwan and Lee Hee-seong.
    • July 24 Chung Dong-nyun asks the Constitutional Court to make a judgment on the prosecution’s decision not to indict Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo.
    • August A campaign is launched to collect signatures for the enactment of a special law that aims to indict those responsible for the May 18 massacre.
    • Nov. 24 President Kim Young-sam orders the Democratic Liberal Party to seek passage of the May 18 Special Act.
    • Dec. 3 Former President Chun Doo-hwan is arrested in connection with the Dec. 12, 1979 military coup and the May 18 massacre after he rejected a summons by the prosecution.
    • Dec. 5 The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office indicts Roh Tae-woo on charges of receiving 290 billion won in illegal funds from business tycoons.
    • Dec. 12 President Kim Young-sam issues a special statement, dubbing the investigations of Chun and Roh “righting the wrongs of history,” and calling for the elimination of the legacy of military dictatorship and coups.
    • Dec. 19 The National Assembly passes the Special Act on the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Uprising.
    1996
    • Jan. 8 The Seoul Prosecutors’ Office announces the discovery of about 10 billion won hidden by Chun Doo-hwan.
    • Jan. 12 The prosecution announces that Chun amassed a total of 950 billion won in illegal funds during his term in office. About 215.9 billion won of it was bribes.
    • Jan. 17 The Seoul Prosecutors’ Office seeks arrest warrants for five people -- Yoo Hak-sung, Hwang Young-si, Chang Se-dong, Lee Hak-bong and Choi Se-chang -- for their roles in the Dec. 12, 1979 coup.
    • Jan. 23 The prosecution indicts Chun and Roh on charges of mutiny and treason.
    • Jan. 30 The prosecution seeks arrest warrants for three lawmakers -- Chung Ho-yong, Huh Sam-soo and Huh Hwa-pyung –- on treason charges.
    • March 11 The “Trial of the Century” begins at the Seoul District Criminal Court with the first hearing on Chun and Roh.
    • March 18 The second hearing is held. Chun testifies that he arrested Army Chief of Staff Chung Sung-hwa without authorization from President Choi Kyu-hah.
    • Aug. 5 The prosecution demands the death sentence for Chun and life imprisonment for Roh.
    • Oct. 7 The Los Angeles Times reports that the United States authorized the mobilization of military units under the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command to quell the Gwangju Uprising. It also says that U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent a special envoy to Chun to express his support for the plan to mobilize military forces.
    • Nov. 11 The Seoul High Court issues an injunction to summon former President Choi Kyu-hah, who refused to testify on the Dec. 12, 1979 coup and the Gwangju Uprising
    • Dec. 23 Chun and Roh decide not to appeal to the Supreme Court.
    1997
    • April 17 Chun Doo-hwan receives life imprisonment, and Roh Tae-woo is sentenced to 17 years in prison on the conviction of amassing illegal funds.
    • April 29 May 18 is designated as a national commemoration day.
    • May 16 The ceremony for the completion of the new May 18 Cemetery is held in Unjeong-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju City.
    • May 18 The government observes the first official commemoration ceremony of the May 18 Democratic Uprising.
    • Dec. 20 President Kim Young-sam and President-elect Kim Dae-jung agree to pardon Chun and Roh and work together in having smooth transition of power.
    • Dec. 22 President Kim Young-sam pardons Chun, Roh and 17 others who had been serving prison terms in connection with the Dec. 12, 1979, coup, the Gwangju Uprising and slush funds.
    1998
    • Feb. 25 Kim Dae-jung is sworn in as the nation’s 15th president. He launches the “Government of the People.”
    1999
    • May The May 18 Freedom Park is opened.
    2000
    • May 18 President Kim Dae-jung attends the ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the May 18 Democratic Uprising.
    • June 15 President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il sign the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration after holding a summit in Pyongyang.
    • Dec. 10 President Kim wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
    2001
    • May The May 18 Memorial Center is opened. Dec. 21:The government drafts a special act to compensate and restore honor to the victims of the Gwangju Uprising.
    2002
    • July 27 The May 18 Cemetery becomes a national cemetery under the special act for the victims of the Gwangju Uprising.
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