National Museum Of Korean Contemporary History

Special Exhibition

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원본 포스터 다운로드 원본 포스터
May, when the day comes again
Special Exhibition in commemorationof the 40th anniversaryof the May 18 Democratic Movement

May, when the day comes again

Special exhibition 3F, 1F, Front yard, Outdoor corridor

May. 13th, 2020 ~ Oct. 31th, 2020

  • Price : Free
  • Hours :10:00 – 18:00
    Opening hours will be extended to nine o’clock in the evening on Wednesdays. (Last admission is one hour before the closing time.)
  • For additional inquiries call : +82-02-3703-9200

Opening Special Exhibition

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the May 18 Gwangju DemocraticMovement. The Gwangju victims courageously stood up in defense ofdemocracy, doing their part as citizens to help make Korea a democratic nation.The National Museum of Korean Contemporary History has jointlyopened this special exhibition in collaboration with the May 18 MemorialFoundation, May 18 Archives, Chonnam National University May 18Research Institute, and National Archives of Korea.

This exhibit presents heartfelt accounts by eyewitnesses who watchedevents unfold from their respective perspectives that May, and whotoiled to preserve and report that they had seen. We wished to displaythe solidarity and caring displayed in the documents that reveal the hardwork and strenuous effort of countless people, the throngs who filledGeumnam-ro, the long lines of blood donors, and the rice balls handedout by nameless volunteers.

Few people are unaware of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Movement,but not many know what truly happened. We hope that this exhibit servesas an opportunity for people to ponder the Movement’s significance.

May, when the day comes again

Prologue:Signalsof those days
Those were the sounds that caught the attentionof Gwangju citizens four decades ago. Now, it’s time to ask:
Just what happened in that place in May of that year?
Torch light
In the night of May 15th 1980, the “great holy assembly for the democratization of the people” was held peacefully in Gwangju. Meanwhile, the night of May 17th, An emergency statement will bring news of the expansion of the emergencymartial law.
Torchlight around the Fountain in front of Jeonnam Provincial Government Office
A City in Terror
On the morning of Sunday, May 18th, 1980, the martial law troops wreaked unrestrained violence at Chonnam University. Items from Gwangju attest to the fear that gripped the city on that day.
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1. Riot sticks and uniforms usedby Martial Law troops 2. Gwangju Police Officers’ Daily Log
We Watched It
Truths of Gwangju came to light by journalists who recorded actually what happened in the city and students who made and distributed leaflets from May 18, playing the role that the domestic press people could not perform.
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1. Hankook Ilbo, daily news for Koreans in the US 2. Reporter’s notebook 3. Tusa hoebo, an alternative newsletter produced by citizens
Red Blood becomes the Flowers of May
Blood flowed on the streets of Gwangju in May 1980. However, on the flip side of this bloody record are etched the shared public solidarity and beautiful aspirations for a “time of universal peace”.
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1. Sash for “Student Citizens in Training” 2. Gwangju’s Pieta (print) by Tomiyama Taeko 3. Written plea: A Letter to the People 4. Nickel-silver bow 5. Personal items of the deceased
Diaries recorded May 1980
People wrote copious notes about Gwangju that May. Journals kept that May by one female student who worked in the situation room at the Provincial Government, numerous primary and secondary school students, ousewives from the perspectives of the individual authors.
Diaries recorded May 1980
A Stopped Clock
In the early morning of May 27, countless lives were lost in just over an hour and a half. Like a clock that stopped, Gwangju on May 27 became a city of endless sorrow and heartbroken youth.
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1. Wristwatch that stopped on May 27 (belonged to a person who died) 2. Written plea: Resolve of 800,000 Prodemocracy Citizens
Survivors’ Sorrows
Lead the way, follow the living.
Those who were dying screamed, while those who lived kept silent.
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1. Early recording of “March for Our Beloved” 2. “March for Our Beloved” musical score 3. Memoirs of the Gwangju resistance by high school students in the Gwangju area
Epilogue: History-making May 18th
The story of Gwangju was kept alive thanks to the great effort to seek out the people in those stories, who had kept buried inside the events in Gwangju and who were encouraged to give testimony.
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1. Confirmation of registration in the UNESCO Memory of the World Program 2. August and September editions of Japan’s Sekai (World) magazine

The May 18 Democratic Uprising in Government Records

The fact that government records distort this reveals the government’s intention to hide what really led up to the uprising.
People Who Dream of Spring
The people’s aspirations for democratization erupted into the Busan-Masan Demorcatic Protests and massive demonstrations in front of Seoul Station. The new military government, which took power after the military coup of December 12, 1979, clamped down on the press and declared martial law to destroy these aspirations. This is what began the May 18 Democratic Uprising.
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1. Written Instructions for Emergency Martial Law Decree No. 10 2. Proclamation of the Emergency Martial Law
Firing Without Orders
Who ordered the shooting to begin? How many fell down? These questions still remain unanswered 40 years after. It it mainly due to the absence of records. The people of Gwangju, whom the government denounced as “ruthless mobs” are recorded differently in the government records.
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1. Situation daily record 2. Photo of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising of May 18, 1980 (Photo album of the Defense Security Command) 3. Order to produce a film about the “Gwangju Incident”
Stop the Fountain
Normal life returned. Donations and goods from around the country arrived, while the government tried to end the situation by providing compensation for damages. However, what the people of Gwangju desired most was not material compensation but emotional consolation.
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1. Receipt status of damage reports 2. Receipt status of damage reports 3. Stopping the fountain in front of the provincial government building 4. Receipt status of damage reports
Reviving History
As the aspiration for democratization intensified with the June Democracy Movement of 1987, the “Gwangju Incident” was redefined as the May 18 Democratic Uprising. In 1997, May 18 was designated a national memorial day, encouraging people to commemorate those 10 days in May as part of the history of Korea’s democracy.
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1. The sanctuary project of the May 18th National Cemetery 2. Special Act on the May 18th Democratization Movement, etc. (No. 5029)