Ways to celebrate a freedom milestoneNational Liberation Day on Monday carries a special meaning this year as it marks six decades since Korea gained independence from Japanese colonial rule, and the government has pledged to commemorate the event with pomp and ceremony. Only five years after independence, Korea became divided by ideology in a devastating civil war that lasted three years. The 60th year of liberation is to remind us of how far we have come since the era of colonization and to recall the division that continues today. To mark the occasion, the central government and the city of Seoul have planned elaborate and grandiose festivities for Sunday and Monday.
Beginning with the Eve of National Liberation Festivities, there are four main events that will take place in Gwanghwamun. The others are the Main Celebratory Event, the No-Vehicle Street Event and the Celebratory Music Concert on Monday evening. Last year’s Liberation Day events took place at the Independence Hall of Korea, but since this year is a significant milestone, the festivities will be held in the very heart of Seoul. North Korean civilian delegates will be joining in the festivities, along with overseas Koreans. The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs will also invite the descendants of independence movement fighters, who are scattered from Russia to Central Asia and China.
Kim Myung-gon, the president of the National Theater, said, “This year’s National Liberation Day celebration is the most splendid and meaningful event led by the people, and one that will carry on our tradition toward the future. The message we are trying to convey is that of solidarity and peace.”
Eve of Liberation Festivities
Hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the festivities will begin on Sunday at noon, with various performances starting at 5 p.m., including a concert by a Japanese choir. Performers include the Zeloso Wind Ensemble, an orchestra made up of students, teachers, doctors and others; the Hanwoolim Choir, Busan’s oldest amateur choir; the Asian Children’s Choir, composed of children from Korea, Japan, China, East Timor, Cambodia and other nations; and local folk troupes. Japan’s Utagoe Choir will also perform, along with Japanese singers such as Futen Makiori, and Chinese singer Xu Ke.
An Inter-Korean men’s soccer game will take place at 7 p.m at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, part of an effort to jointly celebrate national liberation with Pyongyang. A large screen will broadcast the game live in Gwanghwamun for all to cheer.
From noon on Sunday, no vehicles will be allowed to pass through the streets of Gwanghwamun until late at night. Independence songs will be played in the streets of Gwanghwamun.
Main Celebratory Event
On Monday, the celebration will begin at 9 a.m. with dance performances and an LED lighting ceremony, attended by government officials and other VIPs ― a total of 16,000 Korean and foreign dignitaries will be seated on centrally located podiums. More than 200,000 citizens are expected to gather for the event. The theme of the main event is “The Power of Integration” and “The Prosperity of Northeast Asia,” and it will feature video footage of Korea’s modern history from 1945 to 2005, a performance by a children’s choir, the singing of independence songs, and dynamic drum performances by the National Orchestra Company of Korea, among others.
The main event, with speeches by dignitaries, will begin at 10 a.m., and will include dance performances and the singing of the national anthem and liberation songs. Independence fighters and veterans will receive national merit awards and a lighting ceremony will be held to honor the national spirit.
At 11 a.m. there will be performances by pop groups such as Jewelry, Lee An and Shinhwa.
No-Vehicle Street Event
Major events that will take place on the streets of Gwanghwamun on Sunday include a children’s playground area, where children can participate in making the national flag (Taegukgi) and making items with the national flower (rose of sharon); an open street market, where people can take part in tea and beer- drinking events; and an arts market area, where people can buy and exchange artwork. A digital camera (Dica) area will also allow the public to exhibit photos and video footage they have taken with their digital cameras.
On Monday, there will be a university cheerleading competition, hip-hop performances, history-related exhibitions, various folk performances, and a traditional folk performance by foreign migrant workers, among others. The public can stroll through Gwanghwamun to take part in a diverse range of activities from folk games to face painting. A military parade will take place from 3 p.m.
Celebratory Music Concert
This event will be held on Monday on the grassy area in front of Sungraemun (the Namdaemun area) and will feature a medley of pop songs from the 1950s to the present.
A huge screen in front of the stage will show video footage of major events in modern Korean history, including the Korean War, the April 19 student uprising in 1960, the Saemaul Movement, the Gwangju Democracy movement, the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup.
Korean pop singers, veteran and current, will participate in the concert, including Maya, Crying Nut, Clon, Kim Gun-mo, Lee Mi-ja and Patti Kim, along with world-renowned soprano Sumi Jo and traditional singer Ahn Sook-sun. More than 200,000 people are expected to turn out for the program.
The concert will jointly take place with a live broadcast from the island of Dokdo, where a 5,000 ton ship named Sambongho will sail around the island carrying Dokdo Militia Guards. Soprano Kim Won-jung will perform on the ship.
The events will be held “unless it pours,” said an official at the Ministry of Government and Home Affairs.
by Choi Jie-ho