We imagine the roar of the crowd who shouted Korea's independence from Japan's colonial rule 100 years ago. The cry for independence that resonated throughout the country is the matrix and seed of the Republic of Korea's liberal democracy that we enjoy today. There was no separation between men and women, the old and the young, the learned and the ignorant, or the haves and the have-nots. The entire nation stood up for a just cause for independence.
A century later, we cannot help feeling ashamed if we look back on whether we are making a country that meets the expectations of our ancestors who sacrificed their lives for this country. The Korean nation has remained divided for over seven decades. Internally, the regional, class and ideological rifts are growing deeper. Therefore, the March 1st Independence Movement's spirit of unity is more desperately needed than ever.
It was with the power of unity that the Korean nation stood up against injustice armed with guns and swords. According to Imperial Japan's official documents, 725 to 934 Koreans were killed during the movement. Considering there were countless casualties that were unaccounted for in the documents, the actual number of victims will likely be many times more that the official numbers. The unprecedentedly great scale of casualties in the history of the world's nonviolent resistance movements indicates how merciless Japan's oppression was. Nevertheless, our ancestors were oriented to nonviolent peace movements. Such an approach helped secure sincerity and international support, allowing the movement to play a leading role in changing the course of world history by prompting China's May 4th Movement and Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolent resistance.
The March 1st Independence Movement occurred three months after the end of World War I, which was caused by imperial powers' competition for colonies. The movement was a resolute cry for self-determinism toward the international community. The second U.S.-North Korea summit takes place in Hanoi, Vietnam today. In reality, it is hard to shake off concerns that the outcome could disturb the regional security environment and that our fate might be determined by neighboring powers. South Korea should play a leading role as a party to the Korean Peninsula issues. That depends on the country's diplomatic ability based on self-defensive capabilities.
The starting point for all the efforts is to fully restore the truth about the March 1st Independence Movement and inherit the legacy. It is in a part of such efforts that the Dong-A Ilbo has run a series of fact-finding articles on the movement's history since last year and co-hosted a symposium on Wednesday with the National Institute of Korean History to shed lights on the true aspects of the movement. Cho Kwang, president of the history institute, stressed that Koreans must always remember the March 1st Movement that served as the starting point for a new Korean nation. The movement's spirit of unity, justice and nonviolence was the vein that has kept the Korean nation alive for the past century and is a guiding light that would brighten our future for the next century.