I meant to write this post last week, but hadn’t gotten around to uploading all of my photos until yesterday afternoon. That… and well quite honestly, work/life, got in the way of timely blogging.
At any rate, last Friday we celebrated one of South Korea’s [few] national holidays, March 1st Movement (삼일 운동). March 1st Movement, also referred to as Samil Movement, commemorates a public display of opposition to Japan’s occupation of Korea that took place on March 1st, 1919. Over the next year, activists all over Korea began to show resistance to Japanese forces and protested the Japanese occupancy. Japan tried to control the uprising with brutal measures, which resulted in >7,500 people killed, >15,800 wounded, and >46,300 arrested. Many of the arrested activists were taken to Seodaemun Prison where they were imprisoned without trial, tortured, and even murdered.
To commemorate the day, we made our way to Seoul’s Tapgol Park, to the same site where Chung Jae-yong, a young college student, read Korea’s Declaration of Independence on March 1st 1919, which came to be one of the driving forces behind the resistance movement. The park, which is nestled amongst tall buildings and city traffic, is accessible by the Jongno 3-ga subway station (lines 1, 3, and 5).
While most of the statues and buildings in the park are modern and were erected to commemorate Korean patriots and the March 1st Movement, the park does feature the last remaining Jonseon-era (circa 1467) marble pagoda which stands a remarkable 12 meters tall, encased in a protective glass structure. Tapgol Park is also home to the 500-year-old “sleeping guardian of Seoul,” a five meter tall granite and marble monument with a turtle bottom and dragon top. The pagoda and the monument are ranked as Korean National Treasures #2 and #3 respectively.
It seems that we weren’t the only ones that wanted to celebrate the holiday at Tapgol Park; many attended an event held in Seoul’s Jongno-gu neighborhood to mark the occasion. Children donned hanbok and hapkido outfits, fortune tellers waited in sidewalk stalls, vendors sold Korean flags and t-shirts to those feeling patriotic. We definitely enjoyed Seoul’s historic Tapgol park (and the short reprieve from work).