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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 7: National Liberation Day.
Do you know what happened on August 15th, 1945? On this day, Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces in the Second World War. At the same time, the Korean Peninsula was freed from Japanese control. August 15th was the day that Korea's long-held wish to be independent from Japan was granted.
In this lesson, we're going to learn about National Liberation Day, 광복절 (gwangbok-jeol) which is on August 15th.
But before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question; of the independence activists, one man organized the national liberation army, the independence army, and established the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea or 대한민국 임시정부 (daehanminguk imshi-jeongbu) for independence on the Korean peninsula. Do you know who that man is?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Korean people celebrate National Liberation Day on August 15th every year. The Korean name for this holiday, 광복절(Gwangbokjeol), is made of the Chinese characters 광(Gwang) meaning "light" and 복(Bok) meaning "returning." In other words, 광복 (gwnagbok) means "the day the light came back." August 15th is the day when the light of freedom came back to Koreans, who were deprived of basic rights for a long time and suffered from forced labor and compulsory military service.
On National Liberation Day, many people visit Independence Hall 독립기념관(dongrip ginyeom-gwan)in Cheonan City. This place honors the activists who fought for the independence of the Republic of Korea, and even though a long time has passed since 1945, a lot of families still visit Independence Hall to show their kids the ancestors who did not lose their hope in spite of the tough times.
On this day, just like Independence Movement Day, 삼일절(samil jeol) and Korea Memorial Day 현충일(hyeongchoong-il), Koreans everywhere fly the national flag or 태극기 (taeguekki). On National Liberation Day in particular, the national flag is often seen around the world, as well as in South Korea.
For example, Koreans living or traveling abroad who've gathered to commemorate the day can be easily found in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. So, Koreans who go backpacking to Europe in August may try to go to Paris on August 15th, if they can.
Here's our fun fact for the day! Did you know that in the late 1990s more events were held on National Liberation Day than usual? In the ’90s, the economic situation was so bad that South Korea received a bailout from the IMF. These extra events were organized to encourage people by reminding them of their ancestors, who overcame difficult times under Japanese control without losing hope.
Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: who was the leading activist? It was 김 구 (Kim Koo), who established the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. He argued strongly for the independence of the Republic of Korea to world leaders, who took the Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula for granted at the time. That’s why 김 구 (Kim Koo) has always been considered a representative who Koreans respect.
How was this lesson? Did you learn any new information today?
Is there an anniversary in your country like National Liberation Day?
Please leave your comments at KoreanClass101.com.
We’ll see you next time!