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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 2: Independence Movement Day.
Are you familiar with the modern history of Korea? If so, you’ve probably heard that the Japanese Empire ruled the Korean peninsula 한반도 (hanbando) between 1910 and 1945. Many people living in Korea at the time were unhappy with the Japanese colonization and became active in independence movements. The most well-known event occurred on March 1, 1919, known as the March 1st Movement or 삼일운동 (sam-il undong). Nowadays, we celebrate the history of this independence movement on March 1st with a public holiday called 삼일절 (Samil-joel.)
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: On March 1, 1919, the people assembled at a protest event repeatedly shouted a phrase. Do you know what they said?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The March 1st independence movement spread throughout the whole peninsula, and, as a result, many people went to jail. One of the biggest jails was the Seodaemun Prison or 서대문 형무소 (seodaemun hyeongmuso) located in 서대문구 (seodaemun gu). This jail was established during Japanese rule, and a part of it is still preserved as a memorial. Many people who fought for Korean independence were jailed here, with some even losing their lives. That’s why many Koreans come to this prison and pay their respects to those who made sacrifices for their country.
Among those imprisoned at this Prison was a well-known activist called 유관순 (Yu-Gwan-Sun). She was seventeen years old when she became involved in the independence movement and was sent to jail.
On March 1st, many people visit a little cell which is called the “Ryu-Gwan-Sun cave.” or 유관순 굴(yu-gwan-sun gul.) This is the tiny underground cell where she was kept without any exposure to sunlight.
If you’re in South Korea on March 1st, you’ll see the Korean flag, the 태극기 (Taegukgi), not only flying outside the prison, but also in front of a lot of houses. People even put the flag up on their cars or wear clothes with the flag.
It’s evident that March 1st is still a very important day for Koreans—a day on which we can reflect on the painful history of the country.
Here's our fun fact for the day! At ten in the morning on March 1st, you’ll hear sirens go off in many places. People stop whatever they’re doing, and pay silent tribute to the nationalists who lost their lives for Korea’s independence.
Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: what phrase was used in the March 1st Movement? It was, 대한 독립 만세 (daehan dongrip manse) or “Long Live Korean Independence!” The formal name of Korea is 대한민국 (Daehanminguk) in Korean, a phrase meaning that the independence of the country of 대한민국 (Daehanminguk) will last forever. Only after independence from Japan in 1945 were Koreans finally able to shout their country’s name for what it really means.
Well listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn a lot of interesting things?
In your country, do you celebrate an independence movement?
Please leave us a comment at KoreanClass101.com
And we’ll see you next time!