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S. Koreans show support for Myanmar on anniversary of Gwangju Pro-Democracy Movement Updated: 2021-05-18 09:57:01 KST

Back in 1980, thousands of citizens of Gwangju poured into this square to chant for democracy.
Now 41 years later, as South Korea commemorates their movement, it's also celebrating another cause -- the movement for democracy in Myanmar.

"We will fight until the end, until the very last person."

The two movements in Myanmar and Gwangju transcend generations and borders and strike an eerie resemblance.

"In the 80s, the military took my husband. I didn't know where he was for three months. I heard from another person that he was tortured and beaten so much that his underwear was always soaked red. I hear the same thing is going on in Myanmar and it just makes me so mad."

The two regions have come together in the fight for democracy.
Civilian groups in Gwangju have stepped forward to help Myanmar's movement from afar.

"The Burmese people in Gwangju are worried sick about their families in Myanmar because there's no way of contacting them. Just like how we were back then. So us mothers wanted to give them hope and courage. We held a press conference and raised funds."

"The most painful thing at the time of the May 18th movement was being disconnected from the outside world. So civic groups in Gwangju came together to form the Myanmar Gwangju Solidarity group to let the international community know about Myanmar's situation and to show Myanmar that we are with them."

In 1980, South Korea's military junta rampaged Gwangju in just 10 days killing more than 160 people and injuring well over 3-thousand.
But fast-forward 41 years, a global survey ranks South Korea as the 23rd most democratic country in the world.
In Myanmar, the reported death toll is nearing 800 with civilian protests ongoing for more than 100 days.
Gwangju citizens are hoping an end to this violence and for Myanmar's future to be governed by a healthy democracy.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News, Gwangju
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