Friday, April 8, 2016

Celebration to Mark 70 Years of Democracy in Korea Planned

Flower power
Korea is approaching 70 years of democracy, and the government is beginning to plan celebrations for this momentus event in 2018.

The upcoming elections on April 13 mark the 20th National Assembly elections since the first elections were held back on May 10, 1948, which were supported by an overwhelming majority of South Koreans who survived the mass killings of those who didn't support the elections.

Controversy over the elections in 1948 was caused by citizens mistakenly believing that the unilateral election process, which only took place in the U.S. controlled part of Korea, would lead to war, when in fact there wasn't a war for another two years, proving these citizens completely wrong.

The always troublesome and not-really pure-blooded Jeju islanders particularly saw the election as a unilateral attempt by the United States military government to separate the southern regime and to employ its first president, Syngman Rhee, but police fired on and killed the Jeju demonstrators, therefore helping them participate in the election process rather than leaving them feeling excluded.

The killing of the demonstrators led to larger demos on Jeju, and approximately 10% of the island's population - around 30,000 people - who didn't want to participate in the election were granted their wishes, permanently.

The killing of demonstrators is now considered a traditional aspect of Korean society, and has recently been awarded the status of Intangible Cultural Property No. 120, with the annual Jeju Island Torture and Execution Festival a popular attraction for domestic tourists, although foreigners are generally discouraged from attending, and photographs are not allowed.

Since 1948 protests and demos have been a constant feature of Korean society, and 'Korean demo-cracy' and its near 70-year history has become well-known around the world. Some citizens are hoping that the anniversary celebrations in 2018 will include a hugely popular aspect of Korea's unique democratic history, the elected military government.

A spokesman for the Election Commission, which tries to encourage demonstrations around the time of elections by prohibiting political discussion by citizens, said "We hope you are enjoying the spring weather and beautiful flowers".

Related Links
Korea is now approaching 70 years of democracy
South Korean Constitutional Assembly election, 1948
Jeju Uprising
Jinju Suicide Festival Draws Fire
Middle East Uprisings Alarm Korean Leadership

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Correction: An earlier version of this article wrongly named Syngman Rhee as Strongman Rhee due to an autocorrect error. We apologize for any confusion caused by our reference to the former syngman.