25th Anniversary of Historic Gwangju People's Uprising

May 29, 2005

On May 22, about 50 people in Chicago attended a meeting organized as part of the North American speaking tour to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Historic Gwangju People's Uprising. The meeting was coordinated by the Korea Truth Commission.

The meeting was addressed by two speakers from Gwangju who had participated in the events of May 18, 1980 when the people rose up to liberate their city from the U.S.-backed military dictatorship of General Chun Doo Hwan. On orders from U.S. military leaders, the uprising was suppressed with brutal force; as many as 2,000 people were killed. Today, May 18 is a national holiday in Korea commemorating the Gwangju Peoples Uprising as a source of inspiration for activists around the world and a point of unity for the Korean people.

Both speakers talked of their experiences during the uprising and recounted some of the brutal suppression inflicted on the people, including the murder of children and college students. Both speakers exposed the role of the U.S. government in this repression.

In addition, the speakers discussed current U.S.-Korea relations, and emphasized that the threat of war, including even possible nuclear war, is very real and continues to escalate due to the hostile policy of the U. S. government. They spoke out against the U.S. military occupation of south Korea as well as against U.S. pressure and threats against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). The speakers defended the policies of the DPRK to protect itself against the danger of U.S. aggression and called for the peaceful reunification of Korean on the basis of will of the Korean people themselves, free from any outside interference. They specifically called for the U.S. government to 1) end its hostile policy; 2) sign a peace treaty with the DPRK and 3) normalize relations with it.

After the speakers finished their presentations, participants in the meeting all posed for a group photo, and were then invited to stay for informal discussion and food.

For over an hour, the participants discussed how to advance friendly relations between the people of the U.S. and Korea. A photo exhibition of the Gwangju uprising, as well as a video presentation made during the meeting, enabled participants to vividly experience the history and tragedy of the Gwangju uprising.

The Chicago stop was only one of many made by the North American Speaking Tour which began on May 12 and will continue through June 3rd, visiting more than a dozen U.S. and Canadian cities.

(for more information visit www.KoreaTruth.org)