(18–27 May 1980)
A student demonstration in Kwangju (South Cholla Province, South Korea), in protest against the imposition of martial law, and the arrest of several opposition leaders, including Kim Dae Jung. In response to brutal police action, demonstrators attacked government, police, and military institutions, only to be silenced by an elite force of paratroopers. An estimated 2,000 people died as a result of government brutality. After the political liberalization of the 1980s, it became the most potent symbol for government brutality, while the prosecution of those responsible, especially former presidents Chun and Roh, became one of the most contentions domestic political issues of the 1990s, and an important indicator of the seriousness of the state's commitment to political reform.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).