Subversive Historian – 05/18/09

The Kwangju Uprising

Back in the day on May 18th, 1980, student-led demonstrations in South Korea against the military dictatorship of General Chun Doo-hwan culminated in the Kwangju Uprising. In the morning hours, paratroopers clashed with students who had gathered to protest the closing of a university in the south-western city. The disturbances soon spread throughout the day drawing more citizens of Kwangju to oppose the repression of subsequent protests. By May 22nd, the military was forced to retreat from the city after local militias began to fight back. The residents controlled Kwangju for the next five days until, under the authorization of the U.S; the South Korean military violently retook the city. The number of deaths that resulted from the entire episode is still unknown but could have been as high as 2,000.

As historian Bruce Cummings has noted, the Kwangju Uprising brought forth the lesson that the U.S. political establishment couldn’t be trusted to assist the promotion of that very thing it claims to promote around the world…

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