“Expecting democracy to bloom in this country is like expecting a rose to bloom in a trash can” About 67 years ago , a British journalist who witnessed the dictatorship and hopelessness in korea mentioned. Since then, this words has also mentioned by the Indian Ambassador and by some other foreign reporters.
I watched movie ‘1987: When the day comes’ with my high school friends this year in Lotte cinema. This movie set in 1987 and based on a true story. This movie tells the story about the June Democracy Movement in 1987 under the autocratic regimes of Chun Doo Hwan. The early 80’s was a time when Chun had seized the control of our country by military coup after the assassination of President Park Chung Hee. This movie shows the background of why June Struggle could happen and the sacrifices of so many young people against that regime. June struggle was started by Park Jung Chul ‘s torture death and it was spread by the death of Yi Han yeol, a student of Yonsei University.
The angry citizens came out on the streets and protested against government’s attempts to protect the Constitution. But Chun Doo Hwan ignored the protesters’ requirement and announced on April 13 to prolong his rule . But although the pressure on the regime, many student activists in universities and many other groups continued to build massive protests. Finally on June 29, they succeed to change the presidential election system to a direct election !! Article 1 (2) of the constitution of the republic of korea, “The sovereignty of the Republic of Korea shall reside in the people, and all state authority shall emanate from the people” this constitution was made far more before, but it could be instiutionalized by The
June Struggle through the election. And Chun had to leave office at the end of seven-year term. This movement achieved the democracy where dictatorship can no longer settle down. The constitution strenghened civil rights and the power of the president was reduced. A beautiful rose has started to bloom in a garbage can of despair.
Now, I want to talk about what I really thought about our country after I watched this movie. Before I watched this movie I thought history moves in cycle. Because we too often tend to take our democracy and basic rights for granted and don’t care about politics. As we all know Plato said ‘One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.’ and I think that’s exactly what we experienced a few years ago. We saw what could happen if we take our democracy for granted and don’t care about our politics. We had to spend the unprecedented long and harshly cold time in square in 2016-2017 fall and winter. As Plato said I think we paid dearly as citizens for our indifference toward politics. At that time, we had lost so many things that we had taken for granted. So I thought politics is hopeless and our history can’t develop. But if we think about it carefully, we really had hard times but we eventually overcame them together and picked ourselves up again. We’ve learned from experience. We took back our power again and impeached the president for the first time in history. We finally opened the new world and now we are looking at higher level of democracy than what we achieved from the June Struggle. I mean, although we take some steps back sometimes, we always learn from our mistakes and move far more forward than before the next time. So I have come to believe for sure after watched this movie that history progresses.This movie teach me that our country’s history does not develop quickly and sometimes it repeat itself. History doesn’t go in a straight line. But surely , our history has evolved slowly, over the long span of time. 67 years ago and 30 years ago, no one could imagine all the freedom and democracy that we have today.
So now I’m personally optimistic about the future of our country’s democracy because I believe that the experiences we shared with citizens in the square of 2016 and 2017 , that collective memory is still alive in people’s minds and it will last for a long time.