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The "April 19th Revolution" Remembered Again4.19 Revolution commemoration through climbing and memorial service

Dongguk University commemorates the April 19 Revolution again this year. As an annual event to celebrate this history, Bukhansan Climbing Contest and a memorial service at Dongwoo Tower took place on April 11th and will take place on 18th, respectively.

The revolution carries a special value to South Koreans as it was the civil revolution that paved the way for democracy. On March 15th, 1960, Lee Seung-man was elected as the President of the autocratic First Republic of South Korea, but widespread electoral corruption was later exposed. Citizens raged against this corruption, and the first protest was ignited in Masan.

On April 19, students, professors and citizens of all ages and genders voiced their anger against the illegal election. They also demanded Lee seung-man to resign from the position. As a result, the civil movement succeeded in bringing him down on April 26th, 1960. The revolution left an enormous scar on the country, killing 180 people and severely injuring thousands more. Lying behind the democracy, South Koreans have the sacrifice of innocent civilians’ lives.

Students and professors at Dongguk also played a crucial part in the revolution. They screamed for democracy despite the fear of death and irrecoverable wounds both on their bodies and minds. Kim Chil-bong, who was attending the College of Law at the time, led the protest. He commanded his fellow students to head to the Gyeongmudae (today’s Blue House), calling for a table talk with Lee Seung-man.

There, Dongguk’s patriotic martyrs including No Hee-du, Park Heung-gyu and Lee Jong-hak were shot dead. This history shows how the school has provided an intellectual space where students have actively participated in changing South Korea for the better. This history was remembered again at Bukhansan Climbing Contest on April 11th.

All the students, professors and families of Dongguk have been participating in this contest since 1970. Donggukians gather together at the public cemetery of the April Revolution and hold a memorial service located in Suyudong, Gangbukgu. After the service, the climbing began. Daedongmun was the final destination where students receive rice cakes and gifts. Gifts were given through raffle system. 

Students and professors interested in participating formed a team of at least 50 people, and maximum of ten teams will received a share of two million won based on their participation, climbing etiquettes, law abiding and cleaning scores. Kim Sung-hoon, a faculty member from the College of Buddhism, has expressed his hope that students lighted up the meaning of the April Revolution by actively taking part in the contest.

In addition to the climbing contest, the memorial service will be held at Dongwoo Tower in Manhae Plaza on the 18th. Park Jung-geuk, the scholarship division president and Bupta sunim of Jeonggakwon, Ra Dong-young, chairman of the 4.19 Comrade Organization and students will participate in the service. Dongwoo Tower was founded in November, 1960, to remember the seniors’ sacrifice and remind fellow students of the pride in being part of such a historic school.

This year will be the 45th annual service. Tak Sang-min, a section chief of the Student Services Center, has emphasized that the memorial services are important events as they carry a weighty meaning for the school and the nation’s history. Through these events in April, Donggukians will be able to have a memorable time rethinking about the value of democracy and the freedom they have today. This will inspire Donggukians to have a devout mindset. The month of April will be filled with pride and valuing of history.

Park Jung-yeon  jngyn@dongguk.edu

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