|The 1980 Kwangju Uprising After 20 Years: The Unhealed Wounds of The Victims|
|Writer : 5·18eng Date : 2008-10-29 Hit : 4149|
The 1980 Kwangju Uprising After 20 Years: The Unhealed Wounds of The Victims
ForewordBy Rockho Kim
The Kwangju Civil uprising was permanently recorded in world history as a tragic incident that inflicted lifelong scars on many citizens. if asked which event in my life had the most significant impact on my historical consciousness, my answer would unfailingly be the Kwangju Civil Uprising.In the spring of 1980, I was 22 years old, a passionate medical school student. From the beginning of the spring semester, I myself was occupied in organizing an anti-Martial-Law rally with other fellow students, almost living in the Students’ Union Building during that time. However, as soon as Martial Law was extended to the whole nation at dawn on May 17, the soldiers began to make their way to Seoul with tank alongside. I had to hide myself and seek refuse at a relative’s home. There, I resumed the help of other underground student activists. In the meantime, I came to hear about the Kwangju Civil Uprising and the subsequent military massacre. I managed to suppress my overflowing tears and made up my mind to commit myself to our nation’s democratization, following the heroic deeds of the Kwangju civil troops.
Twenty years after the incident, I find the wounds of the 5.18 victims still bleeding. The past two decades have failed to relieve them of their pain and sorrow. The 5.18 Uprising has left a deep and painful wound even to me, who was not in Kwangju at the time. Then, how can I imagine the intensity of the agony the torture victims and gunshot victims had to endure?
As the historical importance of the Kwangju Civil uprising is being heightened, our compassion for the physical and mental pain of the 5.18 victims apparently seems to be fading away. Perhaps we are afraid of looking at the victims face to face. This volume presents the systematic dissection of the true condition of the 5.18 victims, which we are rather reluctant to confront.
This volume mainly consists of articles that were presented in the First through the Third Annual 5.18 Victim; Association Seminar, for which Prof. Juna Byun worked as a research advisor. The articles from Part I, “political violence”, urge us to understand 5.18 as the cruelest example of political violence. Political violence is theoretically reviewed; also presented are its concrete examples, perpetrated particularly in the course of the nation’s modernization. Then, brutality of the Kwangju Massacre is vividly summed up. Part II, “The Wounds”, presents the lasting aftermath of this political violence. The Physical, mental, and social impacts are viewed from various angles. In Part III, “The Testimonies” depicts the 20-year long suffering of the weary victims and their families. Personally, this is the most impressive part of this book. Part IV, “Counter Measures”, analyzes the Government’s measures for the 5.18 victims, investigates the Government’s measures for the 5.18 victims, investigates the effects of the compensation plans, and suggests the need for building treatment facilities. Following the example of “Wonjin Green Hospital” and its affiliated Working Environment and Health Research Center, which were founded in June of 1999 for specialized treatment of the occupational diseases of the Wonjin Rayon Factory workers, it is suggested that a 5.18 Memorial Human Rights Clinic and Research Center should be established.
In reading this book, I expect you to comprehend the 5.18 victims’ blood, tear, and ethos, which have been put aside to celebrate the historical meaning of the Kwangju Uprising. The truth about the victim’ condition is so gruesome that you might want to close the book. However, we cannot play deaf to their crying out any longer. The people who do not learn from history have no future. In order to prevent another kwangju incident, we must directly face the 20-year-old pain of the victims. We can see as much as we know, and we can act as much as we see.
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