Race Celebrates A 'Revolution' Led By Students of Korea UniversityPlanning to drive in the northeastern part of Seoul on the afternoon of April 18? Forget it. Take the subway instead. From about 12 o'clock noon to evening, the roads in the area around Seongbuk-gu and Gangbuk-gu will be closed to motorists.
Some 5,000 students from Korea University and other participants are scheduled to stream through the area on that day, running a race called the "April 18 Marathon." Beginning at Korea University, the course runs 12 kilometers, ending at the April 19 National Cemetery located in Suyu-dong. The race will take the students through Jongam-dong and Suyu-dong.
The authorities with their backing of the race are indicating that the traffic inconvenience that will be created by the student runners must be a small price to pay for a good cause. The event is related to a watershed event in Korean history.
The April 18 Marathon is an annual commemoration of a national uprising that took place 41 years ago. The race marks the April 19 Revolution in 1960, which overthrew the presidency of Syngman Rhee.
Elected by popular vote as the first President of the Republic of Korea in 1948, Mr. Rhee used repressive tactics to keep his post as the head of the country. In the general election of March 1960, he was re-elected through fraudulent means and the people rose up in protest.
A number of demonstrations followed, including one on April 18 by students from Korea University. On April 19, students, professors and citizens nationwide demonstrated, demanding that President Rhee step down.
The protests turned into a violent uprising, which was dubbed the "April 19 Revolution," and finally succeeded in driving Mr. Rhee out of office on April 27. More than six thousand people were injured and about 180 were killed. The dead are buried at the April 19 National Cemetery where the race will end.
For Korea University students, the race has historical significance, making it an essential school event. Choi Seung-don, a Korea University graduate who is an announcer for the Korean Broadcasting System, says, "I have run the marathon more than seven times, but now I see some students who do not seem to understand the true meaning of the marathon."
For those who are not students at Korea University, there is another race. Entry forms for the race are available at the student union of Korea University. The race will last about two and a half hours. For more information, call 3290-1842 (Korean service only).
by Chun Su-jin
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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