[FOUNTAIN]Another reminder of Gwangju’s pain

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[FOUNTAIN]Another reminder of Gwangju’s pain

A child with his cute little hands spread out and totally unaware of his mother’s pain looks into the camera’s lens with his clear eyes, while the mother who is hugging the child sobs. This picture, taken in Andizhan, Uzbekistan, on Sunday brought tears to our eyes. But there were similar faces that overlapped the silhouette of the mother and son who lost the family’s father at the hands of government authorities. A photograph that broke our hearts from Gwangju 25 years ago also shows a little boy with an innocent expression, embracing his father’s portrait.
“The skies of May are dyed with blood. Dead citizens from the government’s merciless and bloody crackdown are placed in various places, including schools and hospitals. The streets are filled with relatives looking for their missing loved ones while their rage creates a sense of tension.” This article, written by a Moscow correspondent, is confusing for a brief moment. Coincidentally, estimates that there may have been more than 1,000 deaths, which can’t be confirmed due to press restrictions, mirror what happened in Korea. We still don’t have an accurate count of the dead and missing from the May 18 Democracy Movement that occurred in Gwangju.
In a scene from “A Petal,” director Jang Sun-woo’s film dealing with the pro-democracy movement in Gwangju, a girl who symbolizes the missing citizens sings, “When it is time for the petal to fall/I can’t endure it as it reminds me of that day...when the petal blossoms and falls/ I can’t bear it as it reminds me of that day.” The girl had lost her mind when she cold-bloodedly removed the hands of her mother, who was shot dead at the scene of the massacre, from her and escaped from a pit filled with corpses. Mr. Jang, whose motive to start directing was to document the pro-democracy movement, borrows the girl’s character and says, “My elder brother, it’s me. Tell me that you recognize me. I have so much to tell you.”
The Seoul branch for the commemorative committee of the 25th anniversary used the word “celebration” at a promotion tower in front of Seoul Station. The meanings of the past sacrifices are fading amid ignorance and shamelessness.


by Chung Jae-suk

The writer is a deputy culture news editor for the JoongAng Ilbo.
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