Monday is a national holiday in Korea. It is the anniversary of the March 1st Movement. On March 1, 1919, a group of Korean intellectuals and activists for independence gathered at a restaurant to proclaim the declaration of independence from Japan. Throughout the nation, delegates read the declaration in various public places. The copy of the declaration was sent to the Japanese governor-general in Seoul. As the police sought to quell these protests, they often took horrendous measures. In one village, the male protestors were all herded into a church which was then locked. Finally, the church was set on fire. Seodaemun Prison swelled with many prisoners. The Japanese were forced to call in the army and the navy to subdue the protests.
Those who played a role in the March 1 Independence Movement are highly honoured in Korea, every bit as much as our own revolutionaries have been honoured in the past.
I suppose that it is fitting to post the National Anthem yet again. I do think that South Korea has one of the most beautiful and moving national anthems around. Originally set to the melody of “Auld Lang Syne”, a Korean composer named Ahn Ik-tae (안익태, 安益泰) felt that the music hardly matched the beautiful words. And so, he crafted a lovely and dignified tune which I think all Koreans can be proud of. While Ahn’s work is generally not performed today, this is not a bad thing to be remebered for.