Archive for July, 2007

Beautiful Holiday – Gwangju of May 18, 1980

Being a staff of the May 18 I had the privilege to be given a ticket for the premier of this movie entitled Hwaryohan Heuga – or Beautiful Holiday – it was the password used during the military operation In Gwangju.

Although the movie does not have subtitles in English, I understand the story with the limited Korean language I know. It was quite different though from what I knew from the books ans stories I learned about May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. Well it was indeed the creative license of the director at work.

Below is a review from

On a sunny May afternoon, taxi drivers, students and women carrying their children gathered by the thousands in front of a provincial downtown office building.

Paratroopers, who had rained upon the city for days, lined the streets as reports spread that they were about to withdraw, filling the people with a spirit of celebration. As the crowd waited in anticipation, the national anthem began to play over loudspeakers.

Then, the crack of gunfire ripped through the afternoon.

Survivors of the civilian massacre now recount that the beloved anthem did not signal their freedom, but the military command to fire, and the troops lining the street were there not to withdraw, but to kill.

“May 18,” a wrenching new film by sophomore director Kim Ji-hoon, recounts the 10 days of the bloody Gwangju uprising, a pro-democracy movement ruthlessly crushed by the South Korean government in 1980 by tank-led paratroopers under the code name “Splendid Vacation.” The military junta of Chun Doo-hwan, who seized power in an internal coup as an army major general in December 1979, officially killed more than 200 of its own citizens and wounded 1,800 others in broad daylight. Though the death toll is disputed, historians agree that the uprising began the day after Chun declared martial law.

Starting with students at Chonnam National University, the pro-democracy movement quickly spread to downtown Gwangju, a city 330 kilometers south of Seoul, where hundreds of thousands of citizens defended themselves against the military with stolen rifles, grenades and military jeeps, driving out police and seizing the city for four days.

Once called a communist-linked rebellion, the uprising is now one of the most venerated chapters in modern Korean history.

However, Kim says that the time is not yet ripe for closing the history books on Gwangju.

“Some people may be content thinking that May 18 has been reinstated as a democracy movement, and that we have done our part in history with that,” Kim said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency at a downtown cafe.

“But when we think of May 18, what comes into our minds is the incident. It has become something like a ceremony, a stuffed specimen,” he said. “We haven’t given much attention to the grassroots people — who they were and what made them lay down their lives. I thought that was the central part of our movie, the reason why we should tell the story 27 years later,” he said.

Looking into testimonies and interviewing victims’ families, Kim found that it wasn’t so much a sense of historic responsibility that drove the Gwangju citizens into the maelstrom, but their strong emotional bonds with their family members, friends and neighbors who fell victim to the gunfire.

“How come they took to the streets in the days of ruthless fear? ‘Because my friend didn’t come back, because some of my family was missing.’ That was how they went outside and got involved,” Kim said, referring to “Beyond Death, Beyond the Dark of the Times,” a collection of testimonies edited by novelist Hwang Suk-young.

The emotional bond is the main theme interwoven throughout the story. Taxi driver Min-woo (Kim Sang-kyung of “Memories of Murder” and “Tale of Cinema”) joins the civilian militia after his younger brother Jin-woo (Lee Joon-ki, “King and the Clown” and “Fly Daddy”) is killed during the gunfire. Min-woo’s sweetheart Sin-hae (Lee Yo-won of “Attack the Gas Station” and “When Romance Meets Destiny”) joins the violence when she fires at a paratrooper in defense of Min-woo.

The characters are based, in part, on real people. The character of Min-woo was inspired by a 31-year-old man who became a de-facto spokesman for the civilian militia and was later killed during the protest, while Sin-ae is based on a woman who took to the streets to notify citizens about the paratroopers’ operations.

The movie is often reminiscent of a documentary, particularly when the film shows — through montages using photos taken by foreign correspondents and scenes recreated through victims’ testimonies — people captured, stripped, and lined up on street corners to be mercilessly beaten with batons and bayonets.

The first film to fully cover the uprising, the movie has become the talk of the town even before its highly anticipated release. A couple of other films have been praised for their artful depictions of Gwangju, such as Jang Sun-woo’s 1996 “A Petal” and Lee Chang-dong’s 2000 “Peppermint Candy,” but those films sidestepped the depth of the Gwangju turmoil to move on to broader subjects.

The uprising still invokes feelings of respect and sorrow in many Koreans, but despite the profound emotional resonance of the subject, some critical movie-goers may feel uncomfortable with some of the more unrealistic elements of “May 18.” For instance, some of the main characters don’t speak in the Gwangju dialect, sounding a bit too Seoulite, and the hairstyle of idol Lee Joon-ki looks a bit too modern and out of place.

In addition, the characterizations seem rather conventional, following the same pattern that many saw in Kang Je-gyu’s 2004 blockbuster, “Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War,” which followed the relationship of an easy-going, warm-hearted man and his smart younger brother against the backdrop of historical tumult.

However, Kim doesn’t sweat what he calls “the small stuff.” The director, who debuted with the comedy “Mokpo: Gangster’s Paradise,” said he worked with sincerity to impart a grassroots spirit to the big-budget film that cost 10 billion won ($10.9 million) to produce — more than twice the average Korean film budget.

“When you are in love with someone, your heart is moved,” he said. “I think you have to be open to her weaknesses and be comfortable with them. Our movie has shortcomings, but they should not get in the way of the sincerity it has.”

“May 18,” produced by Kihwek Shidae and distributed by CJ Entertainment, is to be released nationwide on July 26.



Your Signature is More Powerful than you Think

We would like to share this vlog made by Amnesty International as a way to encourage you to sign up for those petitions: email and post card campaign we are doing for Ms. Malalai Joya (Afghanistan) and Ms. Irom Sharmila (Manipur, India) both are winners of Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award 2006 and 2007 respectively.

We hope that you appreciate and recognize that life is at stake when freedom, justice, human rights, democracy and peace is trampled upon.

Take few moments to savor the message of this vlog:


Have you sent in your application for the Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School 2007?

The dateline is just around the corner and the competition is tough..

The Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School aims to contribute to the development of democracy and human rights throughout Asia. Total of twenty-five (25) invitees from all over Asia who have been working for human rights and peace organizations in their own countries shall be given an opportunity to learn and experience the history and development process of human rights and democracy in South Korea read more or read below.

Email Campaign for Malalai Joya

Reinstate Malalai Joya!

“The Afghan Parliament is worse than an animal stable whose many members are the murderers and enemies of Afghan people,” was a comment made by Malalai Joya in an interview that got the ire of the members of the parliament, prompting her unjust ouster.

Joya criticized the parliament for their failure to legislate laws that benefit the Afghan people. Instead they passed bills like the “Amnesty Bill” that pardons and condones the misdeeds of human rights violators, corrupt officials, drug smugglers and other criminals, as well as creating parliamentary procedures that restrict the freedom of speech.

Malalai Joya is a well known women’s rights advocate who have won several international awards for her work and advocacy among them the 2006 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award given by the May 18 Memorial Foundation of the Republic of Korea.

Malalai Joya is in constant danger; she has survived several assassination attempts and remains under threat. But these will not frighten her to continue promoting and defending women and children’s rights and fighting for reforms with the Afghan people against corruption, fundamentalists’ abuses, warlords and drug smugglers.

We call on the Afghan Parliament to respect the voice of its people for electing Malalai Joya! We call for international solidarity to Afghan people’s call for justice and democracy!

Afghanistan deserves a true and dedicated Parliamentarian

Malalai Joya !

Send this email to the following:

President Hamid Karzai

Supreme Court of Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s Parliament

Interior Ministry

Justice Ministry of Afghanistan

Check this site to send the Afghan Ambassador of your country

Forward a copy of your email to

For more information check these sites:

518 Launches Campaign for Ms. Irom Sharmila

Repeal The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA)! Release Irom Sharmila! These were unanimous calls among the participants of the Gwangju International Peace Forum and East Asia Human Rights Forum 2007 held this May in Gwangju City, Republic of Korea.

Ms. Irom Sharmila is being held under judicial custody for her campaign for the repeal of the AFSPA with her fast-to-death advocacy for more than 6 years now. For this, The May 18 Memorial Foundation’s 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Committee have awarded Ms. Irom Sharmila together with Dr. Lenin Raguvanshi the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

The committee acknowledges Ms. Sharmila’s non-violent advocacy in the repeal of a draconian law that continues to oppress the citizens of Manipur. Ms. Irom Sharmila is given recognition and honor for her indefatigable efforts to improve human rights in India and the noble cause of social justice. Her example is an inspiration to the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and peace.

“A letter was sent to the Indian government to allow Ms. Irom Sharmila to receive her prize but it was ignored” said Mr. Chanho Kim, Director of the International Cooperation Team. As a show of continuing support to Ms. Sharmila’s advocacy The May 18 Memorial Foundation is launching a post card campaign to create more pressure to Indian authorities and encourage solidarity among nations to stand-up against oppressive laws like AFSPA.

The post card calling for the Release of Ms. Irom Sharmila and the Repeal of AFSPA will be distributed to The May 18 Memorial Foundation networks both domestic and abroad. The post card can be sent individually to the Indian Embassy of any country or it could be sent to the coordinating organization of a particular place who will then send those collected post cards to the May 18 Memorial Foundation.

The public is encouraged to email us at for queries or visit the English website of The May 18 at for other information and details.

Please fill out the attached petition-post card and email to the following:

1. Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
President of India
President’s Secretriat, New Delhi
Tel: +91 11 23015321
Fax: 91-11-23017290 & 91-11-23017824

2. Mr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister’s Office
Room number 152, South Block
New Delhi
Fax: +91 11 23016857

3. The Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
Fax: +91 11 23384863

4. Hon. Shivraj Patil

Ministry of Home Affairs,

Secretariat, New Delhi – 110 001
Phone: 23092462/23017256

Fax:23794842, 23793716


6. Foreign Missions (Check the contact details of the Indian Embassy in your country through this site) :

Officials of Manipur to send your Email

A) Ministers and MLAs of Government of Manipur
1. Shri Ved Marwah, His Excellency Governor of Manipur
2. Shri O. Ibobi Singh, Chief Minister, Manipur
3. Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly
4. Shri K Govindas
5. Shri Phunzathang Tonsing, Minister (Power), Manipur
6. Shri Th. Debendra Singh, Minister (Industries)
7. Shri W. Keishing, MOS ( Fisheries & Govt. Press)
8. Advocate General, Manipur

B) IAS and MCS Officers of Government of Manipur
1. Chief Secretary, Manipur
2. A R Khan, IAS,Commissioner(S&T)
3. B B Sharma,IAS
4. Ch Birendra Singh, IAS
5. D S Poonia, IAS
6. Dev Shekhar Sharma, IAS
7. Gyan Prakash, Jt CEO
8. Henry K Heni, IAS
9. Jason A Shimray, Jt Secy
10. L Gangte, IAS
11. L P Gonmei, IAS
12. M Lakshmi Kumar, Jt Secy
13. Md Sajjad Hasan
14. O Nabakishore, IAS
15. P Bhorot Singh, IAS
16. P Kipgen, IAS
17. P Sharat Chandra, IAS
18. R K Nimai Singh, IAS
19. Raikhan Chhibber, IAS
20. Rajesh Kumar, IAS
21. RK Angousana Singh, IAS
22. S Budha Chandra, IAS
23. S Jerol, IAS
24. S Kunjabihari Singh, IAS
25. S Sunderlal, IAS
26. Saichhuana, IAS
27. Secretary to Governor, Manipur
28. Shambhu Singh, IAS
29. V Chhibber, IAS
30. V K Thakral, IAS

C) Departments and other Officers under the Government of Manipur
1. 17th Assam Rifles, Imphal
2. ADC to Governor, Manipur
3. AIR, Imphal
4. Board Of Sec. Education, Imphal
5. BRTF, Imphal
6. Dept. of Science, and Technology, Imphal
7. Deputy Comdt, 33bn BSF, Bishnupur
8. Deputy Director, Manipur State Archives, Imphal
9. DGP, Manipur
10. DIG, Police Department, Imphal
11. Director, Education(S), Imphal
12. Director, Information and, Public Relation, Imphal
13. Director, Minorities and Other Backward Classes, Imphal
14. Director, Planning, Imphal
15. Director, Youth Affairs and Sports, Imphal
16. Doordarshan Kendra, Imphal
17. Gauhati High Court, Imphal
18. Govt College of Technology, Imphal
19. IGP Intelligence
20. J B Negi, IPS
21. MASTEC, Imphal
22. Police wireless, Imphal
23. R Baral, IGP
24. SP, CID (SB), Imphal
25. T Thanguthuam, IPS
26. Kh. Rajen Singh, PSA & SIO

(Note – a word file of this post card is available at 518 website.)

Related link about this issue:

Final Call for Applications!

Have you sent in your application for the Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School 2007?

The dateline is just around the corner and the competition is tough…..


The Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School aims to contribute to the development of democracy and human rights throughout Asia. Total of twenty-five (25) invitees from all over Asia who have been working for human rights and peace organizations in their own countries shall be given an opportunity to learn and experience the history and development process of human rights and democracy in South Korea.

Participants will be introduced to Korean history, the movements and struggle for democracy, including the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising, both through theoretical and practical experiences such as seminars, discussions and field trips to the sites of democratization movements in Korea. Included in the program design are sessions on administration of cultural events and youth activities; orientation on documentation and record preservation; and building networks and conduct of international cooperation projects.

Basic Criteria

1) Applicants will be chosen and categorized according to the following levels:
a) 5 participants – Senior Manager/Director Level (Total of 3-week of stay in Korea)
b) 10 participants – Middle Manager/Supervisory Level (Total of 2-week of stay in Korea)
c) 10 participants – Junior Staff (Total of 2-week of stay in Korea)

2) Must have more than 2 years of NGO work experience (human rights, democracy and/or peace organizations) for the junior staff. The other levels require minimum 5 years of work experience.

3) Facilities for English language (Korean an advantage) and demonstrate capacity for active participation in discussions and cultural events.

4) Application is endorsed by his/her organization.

5) Must be sensitive to cultural conditions and traditions of Korea/Koreans and co-participants.

Application and Selection Process of the Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School

1. Application forms will be released in June 2007 and the deadline for applications will be on 20th July 2007. The final list of folk school participants will be announced in the month of August 2007.

2. The folk school will be conducted for two weeks from September 2-16, 2007.

3. Applicants should fill-out the application form properly and submit via email to The May 18 Memorial Foundation.

4. The May 18 Memorial Foundation – International Committee, (composed of individuals from different organizations) is in-charge of selecting the final list of participants after a careful evaluation and assessment of applicants.

5. Guidelines and other details on the Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School will be given to successful applicants.

Important Dates:

1. Application deadline: July 20, 2007

2. Period of event: September 2-16, 2006

Other Information and Details

The May 18 Memorial Foundation will cover round-trip airfare, meals, and accommodation of those successful applicants.

Please download and fill out the application form found at the 518 website and email it to us at:

For information about the past folk schools visit our blog and check the September 2005 archive at –

To learn more about the The May 18 Memorial Foundation please visit the English section of our website at –

Please help us disseminate this information.

Good wishes.

Chanho Kim
International Cooperation Team
The May 18 Memorial Foundation

Updating our directory

Warm greetings !

We are currently in the midst of updating our database. As such, we hope that you will be able to help us identify the active and inactive e-mail addresses.

If you get this mail, please do send us a mail in reply, identifying yourself. Please include information like:




Field of work

Mailing Address

E-mail Address


Phone number/s

Fax number

Other relevant contact details.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to update us. Please email us at

We really appreciate it.

Have a nice day.

Warm Regards,
International Cooperation Team

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518 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School