South Koreans flocked the streets of Midtown Manhattan as they celebrated their Centennial Independence.
Midtown Manhattan was not only filled with snow, but also with glee as South Koreans celebrated their 100th anniversary of the March 1 Movement, a historic mass demonstration of Koreans against the rule of Japan.
Approximately 200 people waved Korean flags and shouted “Mansei,” which translates to “long live Korean independence.” Additionally, women dressed in black and white uniforms similar to Yu Gwan-sun and her student demonstrator peers.
Yu was a student at the Ewha Haktang School for Women and is one of the most famous icons for Korean freedom. At 16, she joined one of the earliest protests in Seoul with her four classmates.
Yu’s nationalism made her the face of the entire nation who yearned to be free of Japanese colonial rule in 1919. Japanese authorities detained Yu and her peers during March 5 demonstration. Shortly after, the government closed down all schools.
“I feel like it’s almost my responsibility and my duty to come out here and commemorate today,” said William Chung, an 18-year-old student attendee in an interview with The New York Times. Chung, whose both parents were born in South Korea, added that he feels almost guilty that he is not knowledgeable enough about it.
New York State Legislature passed a resolution which commemorates the Centennial of the Korean Independence in January. This resolution also meant to honor the legacy of Yu and is one of the most talked about Asia News in America.
Aside from the celebration in New York, South Koreans also marched on the streets of Seoul to commemorate the momentous event where around 500 people participated.
Many people held flags in their hands and donned traditional costume of the country. Additionally, the crowd was also entertained by performers who reenacted the Independence Movement which took place a century ago.
Just last year, South Korea and Japan’s relations became a hot topic after South Korea stopped the settlement compensation for Korean women who were forced to work in wartime brothels. Additionally, the country’s top court also ordered Japanese firms to pay back South Koreans for their forced effort during the war in Asia.