Among the pictures, some hit me home personally: those in black and white of the story entitled, "Return to the First Page," portraying students' demonstrations against military dictatorship. They brought me back the unforgettable memories of my youth. Those pictures may seem unimaginably distant and intangible records of the past for today's students, but they are enough to trigger the keen recollection of the ordeal for those who are aware of how it was to be a college student in the 1980s. I remember my freshman year like it was yesterday. I was one of the youths who threw stones at the riot police. Not every student participated in protesting because taking the street meant a risk of being arrested or of being assaulted physically at unknown places. The police cracked down on any kinds of political gatherings on and off campus. For this reason, breaking out of a demonstration on campus was a moment of hair-raising and fear-provoking; literally it meant to take a serious risk.
Dongguk was one of a few universities which actively protested against inhuman rulings of the dictatorial regimes. The riot police were allowed to march into our campus and were often seen around Manhae Hall, the library building which was the venue where students disseminated anti-government leaflets to fellow students. Plain clothes cops were keeping all the students under surveillance all over the campus, even in the library and classrooms. I recall a sad memory of being a helpless college student when a coed taking part in demonstration was caught by wrestler-looking men on our campus; four men carried her by her limbs to a riot bus. She was wiggling and struggling to free herself but to no avail. I really felt pathetic about myself because I could do nothing to save her but watch her struggling. All I could do was push back quietly my tears coming into my eyes.
Dongguk University Museum held Korean National Treasure Exhibition in the last May, displaying precious items that we should be proud of. DU is among only a few universities in Korea which are old enough to celebrate its centenary. And yet, I wish Donggukians to remember another precious thing, i.e. our inner heritage that needs to be treasured as much although it cannot be displayed like pictures: the spirit that strikes out against injustice has been flowing in our hearts for 100 years.
Kim Seong-jung email@example.com
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