Pages from history, written in Korean blood
Watching Korean soldiers aim guns and bayonets at their fellow citizens, Jeon, a dance teacher turned orator and Ahn, a nurse, became fighters for democracy. They were not alone ― the citizens in Gwangju, South Jeolla were united in their fight against Chun Doo Hwan, who had taken power in a military coup the year before. Koreans had high hopes that democracy was at hand after the military regime of Park Chung Hee came to an end. These hopes vanished after Chun’s military coup. Chun sought to control the nation with a declaration of martial law.
With the release of the film “May 18,” the memories of Jeon and Ahn have been revived, as the basis for the film’s female lead, Shin-ae. The movie focuses on an ordinary taxi driver, Min-woo, whose life is defined by his love for his young brother and for Shin-ae, a nurse, whom he secretly admires. Shin-ae works at a hospital and takes to the streets with a megaphone to spur citizens to oppose Chun’s dictatorship.
Kim Ji-hoon, the film’s director, says he created a composite of Jeon and Ahn to form his female lead.
Kang Ju-hui cried after seeing it in Seoul. “I cannot believe this is a true story,” she said. Ahn and Jeon say the film tells only a “small part” of “the brutal cruelty” that took place on the streets of their hometown that year on May 18 to 27.
By Chun Su jin [email@example.com]
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