Roar and sacrifice of KU students not forgotten 60 years later
The 60th anniversary celebration of the 4.18 Korea University Student Movement and unveiling ceremony for 4.18 Declaration commemorative copperplate held.
Special exhibition, ‘Symbol of Defiance and Liberty,’ hosted by KU to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 4.18 Korea University Student Movement.
On April 18, Korea University hosted an unveiling ceremony for a new commemorative copperplate for the 4.18 Declaration, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the April 18th Monument.
The commemorative ceremony, which was drastically downscaled to prevent the spread of COVID-19, was attended by KU President Chung, Jin Taek, President of the KU Alumni Association Koo Cha-yol, President of KU April Revolution Association Park Gyu-jik, and other alumni members to commemorate the 4.18 Korea University Student Movement that took place six decades ago.
To practice social distancing, the ceremony attendees were advised to keep a safe distance from each other.
KU President Chung gave an address at the wreath-laying ceremony, in which he said: “60 years ago, KU students stormed out of the main gate with placards saying ‘Let’s raise liberty, justice, and truth.’ The spirit of resistance, which inspired them to fight against injustice and not to be complacent with the present, was the symbol of KU spirit at the time.” He added that KU students have always been on the road towards innovation, choosing the road not taken and responding to the call of the times.
President Chung continued his speech, saying, “Korea University will offer a people-centered education service on the basis of the KU spirits of ‘Belief for Justice’ and ‘Liberty, Justice, and Truth.’ KU students and faculty will inherit the noble spirit of students from the past and work hard to develop it further. In 1961, celebrating the 1st anniversary of the 4.18 movement, then-president Yoo Jin-oh said that building the April 18th Monument was not to boast of what we did a year ago, but to remember the spirit we had for good. Today, we hung a commemorative signboard in front of the Main Building where the declaration was recited. This ceremony is designed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the movement and to try to vividly remember how resolute the students were at the time. Following the 4.18 spirit, the University will exert its utmost effort to live up to the social responsibility and become a university that is well prepared for future.”
Koo Cha-yol, President of KU Alumni Association, delivered a commemorative speech as follows: “Like the 4.18 KU Student Movement saved the nation in distress and led the national democratization to success, I am certain that we will overcome the COVID-19 crisis as all KU students and faculty work more closely than ever. Six decades ago, the roar of KU students for freedom and democracy led to the 4.19 Revolution the next day, opening up a new chapter in the history of democracy in Korea. This year, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Movement, I hope that we all remember the passionate spirit of defiance from the past and rekindle the spirit in our hearts. The noble sacrifice made by the late Kim Wal-yeong, who entered the Department of Chemistry in 1954, should be remembered by registering his name to the historical records of the 4.18 Movement. The alumni association will keep the noble value of unflinching courage, intelligence that never settles, and conscience leading to action that were displayed by KU students during the April Revolution.”
Park Gyu-jik, President of KU April Revolution Association, reminisced of the 4.18 Movement day 60 years ago. “I cannot believe that it has been already 60 years, as I can still vividly picture the day that I dashed out of the Main Gate. COVID-19 has not only changed the world, but also our life. Although the University has been extremely busy dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, it does not forget to provide consistent support for the 4.18 scholarship project, the 4.18 inheritance project for currently-enrolled students, and the commemorative ceremony for the 60th anniversary. The fact that the movement has not been forgotten by the University has been greatly comforting to us. We truly appreciate that.”
Yoon Jin-ho, President of Seokjuhoe expressed how he felt about the ceremony of the day. “I was president of the student body back in 1990 when I laid flowers to the April 18th Memorial. It feels special for me to have a chance to do the same 30 years later. During the June Democracy Movement in 1987, students who longed for the abolition of Korea’s military dictatorship and the realization of democracy took to the streets where many lost their lives. If I look back on the past, it would have been impossible to make a democratic progress without suffering from such tragic history. What we did on that day was based on the 4.18 spirit that our seniors showed before.” He added, “I think the progress of democracy in Korea has been following the will of the deceased during the democratic movement. Every day, we are making small progresses towards a better world thanks to the 4.18 Movement, the June Struggle, and all of our wishes for an advanced democracy.”
After the wreath-laying ceremony, the participants moved to the Main Building to recite the 4.18 Declaration and unveil the commemorative copperplate. The declaration was recited by Park Chan-se, who wrote the declaration back in 1960, and Kim Min-su, President of the Emergency Planning Committee for the KU Student Body.
The KU Museum is hosting a special exhibition entitled, ‘Symbol of Defiance and Liberty,’ to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the patriotic deed of KU students. The exhibition continues from April 18 to July 17.
The members of the KU April Revolution Association, who attended the 60th anniversary ceremony, also participated in the opening ceremony of the special exhibition to reminisce of the day they took to the streets six decades ago.
The special exhibition displays the entire course of the April Revolution. On the day, the student protesters gathered in front of the Main Gate and marched to the National Assembly before returning to the University. Slogans chanted by students and their traces are all introduced in the exhibition.
For the exhibition, the University contacted the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States via its Korean Archives for Modern and Contemporary Videos to acquire unedited video records on the April Revolution. The video records were edited for the exhibition to publicize the video recordings of the KU students protesting in front of the National Assembly on April 18, 1960.
The exhibition also displays a poem written by Cho Ji-hoon, then-professor of Korean Literature who was deeply moved by the patriotic deed of students who fought against injustice. The poem, entitled, ‘We Know What You Have in Your Minds,’ was first published in the Korea University newspaper on May 3, 1960. The exhibition presents a calligraphy version done by Kim Nan-hee, widow of the late Cho, in 2005.
The List of Korea University Students Injured while Participating in the 4.19 Revolution is also on display. This document was recently promoted as a national registered cultural heritage item by the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. It was first time for a cultural heritage item related to the democratization movement to be registered, which made its registration all the more meaningful. According to the administration, the list is of great historical significance as it describes in detail about how the KU student protesters were attacked by political hoodlums on their way back to the University on April 18. It also described where other political assaults against protesters on April 19 occurred and how badly the innocent civilians were injured.