Wednesday, March 11, 2015

June Uprising + Renewed Interests

On Tuesday the class had the privilege to attend Korea University where we heard Professor Jai Kwan Jung speak on the June Uprising.

This was a topic that I didn't know a lot about so I was very intrigued. The June Uprising was a political movement that occurred in 1987 in South Korea. The Korean people protested the government for about two weeks.

Why was there a political movement and protests.

The South Koreans wanted the government to hold elections and to have a democratic system.

 Chun Doo-Hwan was the leader of the country after gaining control via military coup, according to Professor Jai. The college students protested and gained support from opposition party politicians and white-collar workers. 

What escalated the tension between the people and the government were the deaths of two students. One student was tortured to death by police. The police said he died from a heart attack but it was later revealed that the cause was police torture.  Another student died from tear gas at a protest. 

After a strong fight, the people won. South Korea transitioned into a democratic reform. 

An interesting part of the people's fight was the support they had from the church. The church gave the people shelter from being arrested by the police. 

I found this experience to be very interesting. It definitely made me very curious and motivated me to learn more about the history of the government. This is one example of one of the numerous interesting yet rough events that South Korea experienced while growing into the country it is today. 

I also had the chance to talk to a Korean University student by the name of Bomei. She was a very sweet yet shy and is studying French with a minor in Fashion Merchandising. We compared our interests in TV shows and music. I asked her a few questions about being a Korean. One of the questions was her opinion on the very complex relationship Korea has with Japan especially because they cooperate militarily but Korea has a ban on Japanese movies and music. She  replied that she felt it was only the older generation that had a dislike for the Japanese. I sensed she wasn't sure how to answer this question so I asked her about the country's neighbor and frenemy, North Korea. Bomei remarked that very few people like North Korea and that the two countries should, in the words of the wise philosopher Taylor Swift, "never get back together, like ever."

This trip has inspired me to learn more on the country because it has a colorful past. Being able to come to the country has really made the textbooks come to life. Also, it really gives me a first hand experience of the events by allowing me to either see the place or just experience the culture. Being able to listen to Professor Jai and talking to Bomei was refreshing because they gave us their perspectives as citizens of the country, not a textbook that can't make the event personable or give opinions.

I strongly believe that more politics and history classes should go abroad because it helps make the lessons more meaningful for the students.

(Kritika and I with Seoul-diers) 

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