On March 1, President Moon Jae In of South Korea commemorated the 103rd anniversary of the March 1st Movement with a moving speech.
The March 1st Movement, also called the Sam Il (3-1) Movement, was a series of demonstrations that began on March 1, 1919 in Seoul. Korean demonstrators called for Korea’s national independence from Japan, banding together against the forced assimilation into Japanese life. For twelve months, approximately two million Korean citizens participated in over 1,500 demonstrations all over the country before the movement was suppressed.
During the movement, hundreds of homes and public spaces were burned down, approximately 7,000 were killed by the Japanese police and soldiers, 16,000 were wounded, and about 46,000 people were arrested, 10,000 of whom were tried and convicted.
A century later, Koreans are paying tribute to the brave people who fought for their rights as well as celebrating the free society those fights helped win.
Ours is the history of a genuine democratic republic that has achieved great advancement by bringing ordinary people together.
— President Moon Jae In
“Over the past 100 years, we have built the democratic republic that was envisioned by the March 1st Independence Movement and the Provisional Government,” President Moon said in his speech. “All of us have raced forward without rest to create a free, egalitarian, and unrepressed country, a peaceful and cultured nation.”
Halfway through his speech, the president spoke about how Korea’s arts have transformed and evolved, “making the dreams that our forefathers had a century ago a reality” and, “moving people around the world.”
With pride, President Moon spoke about Korea’s arts industry and how it has gained international fame and acclaim. Specifically, President Moon mentioned BTS, the award-winning film Parasite, and Netflix‘s megahit K-Drama, Squid Game.
With K-pop leading the way. Hallyu [the Korean Wave] is sweeping the world. Regarding the BTS craze, Forbes said it was a ‘new normal.’ The film Parasite won the top prizes at Cannes and the Academy Awards.
Our games, webtoons, and animation are loved by the world, and our dramas such as Squid Game are hitting home runs one after another. In such fields as Western classical music and ballet, the talents of Koreans are also being extolled by people around the world.
This outcome has been made possible by the harmonious mingling of the passion and spirit of our culture and arts figures in each field.
— President Moon Jae In
“Democracy…” he said, “has given wings to creativity and free imagination in culture and arts.” Without the March 1st Movement, K-Pop, the booming Korean film industry, and more would likely not exist as they do today.