The Kwangju Massacre: Background information when reading Forgotten Country

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Forgotten Country

By Catherine Chung

Forgotten Country

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Beyond the Book:
The Kwangju Massacre

The family in Forgotten Country flees South Korea in the tumultuous wake of what many South Koreans consider to be the worst tragedy in Korean history since World War II - worse even than the Korean War. Indeed by all accounts the event that took place in May of 1980, known as the Kwangju Massacre, when hundreds of students and private citizens of a university town (also known as Gwangju or Gwangju Metropolitan City) were slain by the Korean military, is widely acknowledged as a national tragedy.

Map of Kwangju, South Korea It all began as a demonstration against the military dictatorship of General Chun Doo Hwan who had dashed any hopes of democratic elections upon the assassination of South Korea's previous leader by declaring martial law and imposing strict reins on the press. Pro-democracy students took to the streets in protest on May 18 and were met with armed military resistance. As sympathetic citizens and other university students witnessed what was happening on television, thousands more joined...

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