A parade downtown to the Old Provincial Hall, on May 17th.
May 18th is the 30th anniversary of the start of the Gwangju Uprising (5.18 광주민주화운동), an occasion marked each year with a parade and speeches. Coverage of Tuesdays events is provided by English-language papers the JoongAng Daily and the Korea Herald:
About 2,500 people, including Prime Minister Chung Un-chan and leaders of political parties, attended the ceremony at the national cemetery in Gwangju.
More than 300,000 people have visited the national cemetery this month ahead of the ceremony, according to city officials.
Ceremonies were also held elsewhere in the nation including Seoul, Busan, Ulsan and Daegu.
About 600 people gathered at a plaza in front of the Seoul City Hall earlier Tuesday, offering a prayer for the victims of the May 18 uprising.
The president did not visit Gwangju on Monday, unsurprisingly inviting criticism; from the JoongAng Daily:
President Lee Myung-bak will not attend the anniversary ceremony, prompting complaints from the commemorative groups. The May 18 groups issued a joint statement, urging the president to reconsider his decision.
. . .
“When he was a presidential candidate, President Lee had spoke carelessly about the May 18 democracy movement,” said Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun. “For the second year in a row, he is skipping the anniversary ceremony. The May 18 anniversary is designated as a national observation day, but concerns grow that Lee is treating it coldly.”
There is also an index of Korean-language articles available via Naver and a Daum search, and the local English-language magazine Gwangju News has a few articles in its May issue.
An excellent source of insight and information in English is the blog Gusts of Popular Feeling, which provided a summary of its writing in a post yesterday.
If you're ever in Gwangju you can visit the National Cemetery (5.18 국립묘지) and other historical sites associated with the uprising via the aptly-numbered city bus 518. In 2008 the calendar was more cooperative and the 17th and 18th fell on a weekend, so I could witness some of the proceedings downtown and at the cemetary on both days. In the middle of the Mad Bull Shit protests against President Lee Myung-bak and American beef, though, the struggle for democracy 28 years earlier was updated in a rather bizarre way.
Downtown Gwangju on May 17th, 2008 was less about the battles in 1980 and more about the perceived dangers of big, bad American beef.
Some still make the connection.
About the only other time I wrote about the uprising was a week later when I looked at placards set up in Gangjin county, south of Gwangju, one of the several outlying rural areas where violence spread in 1980. An excerpt from the placard in front of the county office:
The Demonstration Movement in Kangjin area has been ignited by demonstrators arrived in Kangjin from Kwangju City by eight buses on May 21, 1980.
As the demonstrators entered the Kangjin, the police forces voluntarily withdrew their forces avoiding physical clash. Citizens being already aware of the Kwangju massacre welcomed the student demonstrators and joined with them.
Having set up their headquarter at the Kangjin church, the students and citizens made an organized demonstration in several places such as County Hall and Bus Terminal. At night, they stayed at the church or the inns nearby and the sisters from the church offered foods to them.
On May 23, 1980, about 500 students from Kangjin Agricultural High School gathered together and joined in the demonstration screaming "Lift the Martial Law", "Recover the democracy", and "Free Kim Dae Jung". The demonstration reached its climax as the members from the Regional Young Man's Association and Young Man's Counsel add to the demonstration group. On May 23rd, there were two bullet wounded people and many other wounded ones from Haenam Wooseljae clash against the Martial Law Command and they were hospitalized and cared for in the provincial hospital, the current Kangjin clinic.
Photographed in 2006.
Further research into the events in rural Jeollanam-do in May 1980 would be an interesting academic hobby to try before the 31st anniversary.