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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: Holidays in South Korea Series on KoreanClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Korean holidays and observances. I’m Brandon, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 15: 419 Revolution Day.
Do you know what political events happened in Korea after the Korean War ended? Although the country experienced economic development, it did so under a period of dictatorship and corruption. Various democratic groups resisted that dictatorship. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the civil revolution on April 19th, 1960, that rose up against corrupt political power. This day is called 419 Revolution Day or 사일구혁명일(sa-il-gu hyeongmyeongil.)
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: in addition to 419 Revolution Day, there are a few other important days in Korea with their date incorporated into the name. Do you know which days those are?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Seungman Ri or 이승만(i-seung-man) was inaugurated as the first president of the Republic of Korea, and held the presidency during and after the Korean War. After the war, he was in power for twelve years, and there was a lot of corruption under his dictatorship.
With his re-election in March 1960, it was revealed publicly in April that votes had been controlled. People who had complaints about the dictatorship started holding demonstrations in various places. After the election fraud became known, the first demonstration occurred in the city called 마산(Masan). But the government ordered the police and organized crime groups to mercilessly suppress the demonstrations. Citizens, angered by this rather violent way of handling the demonstrations, started demonstrating all over the country. In Seoul, a group of about four thousand students, mostly from Korea University, began protesting in front of the National Assembly Building or 국회의사당 (gukhoe-uisadang). The students finished the protest peacefully and returned to school, where they were beaten by organized crime groups. This was the peak of the citizens' dissatisfaction.
Students and citizens began protesting more while yelling, "Resign Seungman Ri and Overthrow the Dictatorship!" College professors and scholars also gathered to demand Seungman Ri's resignation. Despite the suppression of the protests and the number of people who were injured, the protestors’ will never faltered. And so, on April 19th, they held a large-scale protest.
After that day, Seungman Ri left Korea and was exiled to Hawaii. 419 Revolution Day, when the dictatorship was overthrown by the people's power, was the first democratic revolution recorded in recent Korean history.
Here's our fun fact for the day! Did you know that on April 19th, many people visit the 419 National Cemetery or 사일구 국립묘지(sailgu gungripmyoji) to honor the people who struggled for democracy? There's a 419 Revolution memorial tower or 사일구 혁명 기념탑 (sa-il-gu hyeongmyeonginyeom-tap) inside the cemetery. On the anniversary, people visit that tower and remember the people who were hurt and gave their lives for democracy.
Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: which important days have a number incorporated into their name? Like 419 Revolution Day or 사일구혁명일(sailgu hyeongmyeong-il), there are a few other days with their date in the name, including the day marking the start of the Korean War on June 25th, which is called "625" or 육이오(yugio.) There's also the pro-democratic resistance day on May 18th, called ‘오일팔 광주민주화운동 기념일 (oilpal gwang-ju minjuhwa ginyeomil) or “518 Revolution Day.”
How was this lesson? Did you learn a lot?
Does your country have a day for remembering people who gave their lives in the name of democracy?
Please leave us a comment at KoreanClass101.com.
And we'll see you next time!