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Gwangju, Korea October 31, 2006

Posted by elizabethwong in Democracy, Human Rights, International, Photography, Photojournalism, Travel.


Gwangju, a city four hours south of Seoul, is a historical site for democracy activists, symbolic for both Koreans and Asian activists. A Mecca of sorts.

On May 18, 1980, the first uprising against the military dictatorship and martial law started in Gwangju by university students. This was in response after a series of setbacks, from clampdowns on the media and the arrest of then Opposition politician Kim Dae Jung (Kim later was freed from prison and went on to become the President of South Korea).

But as more were shot, beaten to death, or detained by the military, the whole city rallied behind the students and organised itself into citizens’ self-defence units against the military onslaught. As the military laid seige on Gwangju, the citizens were eventually overpowered by sheer might. Hundreds of students and citizens died, many more injured, and still today some are still missing.

These were taken at the May 18 Memorial in Gwangju.

Faces of Gwangju Martyrs

White chrysanthemum and a dash of incense in memory of the departed

Of shadows

Memories cast in iron 

Gravesite of a young student killed during the uprising.


1. Mario - November 1, 2006

all that needs a reflection. I love the respectful vision of this pics!

2. susan loone - November 2, 2006

great pics eli – keep it up!

3. claire the cat - November 3, 2006

very solemn pictures. and yes, to echo mario, very respectful. sometimes, the sheer solemnity makes me want to cry.

4. June Tan - November 4, 2006

Firstly, these pictures are great. I love the last one especially. It’s so colourful yet so sombre…

I tried to look for your email from this website but couldn’t quite find it, so I thought I would leave a message here instead. I’m a Master student from University of Malaya currently working on my thesis, titled “Is blogging an effective tool for democratizing Malaysia?”

I was wondering if I could schedule an interview with you regarding this topic. If you’re interested, can you please email me at june.tan@gmail.com? It would be very much appreciated if you could. Thanks and have a great day!

5. elizabethwong - November 6, 2006

Dear June,
Thanks for dropping in.
The answer to your question is:- ‘No’.

Dear Mario, Susan, Claire,
Thanks for dropping in too. Death of a dear friend affected me greatly. Will be more responsive soon. Thanks heaps.

6. June Tan - November 7, 2006

Hi Elizabeth,
Thanks anyway =)

7. Mario - November 8, 2006

May your friend rest in peace Elizabeth.

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