<font color="maroon" size=2><b>[Breaking News]</b></font><br> Restored royal gate Gwanghwamun unveiled on Liberation Day

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[Breaking News]
Restored royal gate Gwanghwamun unveiled on Liberation Day

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South Korea on Sunday celebrated its liberation from Japan's colonial rule 65 years ago, unveiling the newly restored Gwanghwamun, a royal palace gate and the nation's landmark that fell into disgrace during the occupation.

Gwanghwamun, the main gate to Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, was revealed to the public on Liberation Day after a four-year restoration that has kept it hidden from view. Its long-lost nameplate was also restored and put back on the gate's facade.

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"We can now see Gwanghwamun standing tall here once again, restored to its past glory," Lee said in his speech at the ceremony for the 65th anniversary of Liberation Day at Gwanghwamun Square in front of the palace gate.

"Gwangwhamun was blocked and neglected, and the flow of our national spirit was choked off," he said, adding, "We incessantly endeavored and struggled for the country's independence."

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Gwanghwamun was constructed in 1395 as part of nation building by the nascent Joseon Dynasty, but was destroyed during the Japanese invasions in the 1590s, during which a large swath of the nation was burned to ashes. It took a long time for the Joseon dynasty to resuscitate, and the palace and
gate were finally reconstructed in the 1860s.

But soon after, Japan, which had absorbed Western modernization more quickly than any other Asian country, colonized Korea. Inside the royal palace, Japanese assassins killed Empress Myeongseong of the Joseon Dynasty, and in 1910, the island nation formally annexed the country.

While demolishing scores of palace buildings to make space for its governor-general office, Japan moved Gwanghwamun from the front of the palace into the northeastern corner.

Although colonial rule ended with Japan's defeat in World War II in 1945, the royal gate was once again destroyed during the Korean War.

An early restoration attempt in the era of industrialization in the 1960s ended incomplete and failed to return the gate to its proper place.

Yet, 50 years later, the restored Gwanghwamun was unveiled on the anniversary of independence so Koreans "can reflect more deeply on the meanings of the forced annexation by Japan," the Cultural Heritage Administration, which led the restoration, said earlier.

Some 4,500 officials, patriotic figures, foreign diplomats, civic leaders and citizens attended the anniversary ceremony. About 1,000 youth put on various performances, with 200 children of interracial marriages among them, in reflection of the growing number of mixed marriage families in South Korea.

For many elderly Koreans, the restored royal gate shows Korea's growing prowess after tribulations of colonial rule and war.

"I'm so proud of our country," said Park Geun-su, 74, who traveled from the central town of Cheongju early in the morning to watch the ceremony.

"When we were little, we lived under their (Japanese) suppression. People didn't dare to go out when a Japanese policeman walked by. Any word about
them made little children stop crying instantly."
Choi Won-hyu, 79, felt relieved to watch his grandfather and three other relatives being posthumously honored as independence fighters at the ceremony.

"I think this will relieve some of their long-held feelings, like it does mine," he said.

People from younger generations such as Moon Sang-seon, 38, were perhaps less emotionally affected, but feel Japan has to do more to make up for its past militarism. The recent apology by Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan didn't fully atone for its wrongdoings, he said.

"With those issues like sex slaves and spirited artifacts unresolved, Japan doesn't feel like a partner yet," Moon said. [Yonhap]
Related Korean Article

8.15경축사..집권 후반기 핵심가치는 `공정한 사회`
개헌, 선거제.행정구역개편 등 정치 선진화 촉구
日총리 `식민지배 사과` 담화 `진일보한 노력 평가`


이명박 대통령이 15일 광복절 경축사를 통해 통일시대에 대비하기 위해 '통일세' 신설 문제를 논의할 것을 제안했다.

또 집권후반기 국정운영의 핵심가치로 '공정한 사회'를 제시하고 사회 모든 분야에서 이 같은 원칙이 지켜지도록 노력하겠다고 밝혔다.

아울러 국회는 개헌과 선거제 및 행정구역 개편 등 정치 선진화를 이루기 위해 적극적으로 나서야 한다고 거듭 촉구했다.

이 대통령은 이날 오전 광화문 광장에서 열린 제65주년 광복절 기념식에서 '함께 가는 국민, 더 큰 대한민국'이란 제목의 경축사를 통해 "통일은 반드시 온다. 이제 통일세 등 현실적인 방안도 준비해야 할 때가 됐다"며 "이 문제를 우리 사회 각계에서 폭넓게 논의해주기를 제안한다"고 말했다.

이 대통령의 '통일세 논의' 제안은 그동안 전문가들의 담론 수준에 머물렀던 통일을 국민공론의 장으로 이끌어내고 막대한 자금이 소요되는 통일 재원을 미리 준비함으로써 실질적인 대책을 마련하겠다는 뜻이 담겨 있는 것으로 보인다.


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