Accounts of the April 19 Movement may be registered as national cultural heritage

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Accounts of the April 19 Movement may be registered as national cultural heritage

First-person accounts of the April Revolution in Korea, also known as the April 19 Movement, may be registered as pieces of national cultural heritage in Korea, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration on Thursday.

“The accounts include those collected by Yonsei University, as well as the list of names of protesters who were at the time students at Korea University,” the administration said in its statement on Thursday.

The April Revolution was a mass protest that took place across the country in April 1960 against then-President Syngman Rhee, the first president of Korea. There was large amount of public unrest in March that year after it was alleged that Rhee had rigged the election that month in his favor. The protests exploded when the body of a student named Kim Ju-yeol was found floating near Masan Port in South Gyeongsang on April 11, 1960. He was killed at a rally on March 15. When his body was found later, he had a tear gas canister stuck in one of his eye sockets. A photograph of the body circulated widely in local media, inciting an angry uprising in Masan. The movement picked up nationwide to protest police violence and request free and fair elections. It resulted in Rhee’s resignation on April 26.

“[When the police arrested me during a rally,] I was agitated but not afraid,” reads one witness account from a woman named Park Hyun-bok, who was 18 years old at the time. She was arrested on March 15, 1960, when she was partaking in a rally in Busan.

The Cultural Heritage Administration said that it will be the first time that records of democratization movements across the country will be registered as part of Korea’s cultural heritage.

Some of the records collected by Yonsei University will also be available to the public at the Yonsei University Museum, although the date of the exhibition has been postponed until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

By Esther Chung
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