The Gwangju Uprising was one of the first major protests towards democratization in South Korea. It took place from May 18 to 27 in 1980, in the city of Gwangju in the southwestern part of the Korean peninsula (Kahn-chae, Na). It began as university protests against the new government and martial law, but due to the brutal attacks on students by soldiers, it angered the citizens of Gwangju which led to an uprising of hundreds of thousands of people (Kahn-chae, Na). Although unsuccessful, it became the rallying cry for other protests to follow. Eventually, because the Gwangju Uprising was swept under the rug for so long, the government would later put laws into place; to reconcile the past and move forward as a legitimate and democratic government. Prior to the Uprising, President Park Chung-hee had been in power for over a decade. He ruled with an iron hand, stimulating business and crippling workers in the process. It was an authoritarian regime, empowered by the Yushin constitution, backed by the Korean CIA and military power. The Yushin constitution gave Park’s “government the power to curtail the citizens’ rights through written laws”(Kim, Marie Seong-Hak). Also there was “Article 53 of the Yusin Constitution which granted the President the power to take ‘necessary emergency measures’ when he deemed national security or public safety and order was in serious threat or when he anticipated such a threat; in such cases the President was allowed to ‘suspend temporarily the freedom and rights of the people prescribed in this Constitution.’ Then President Park issued the first Emergency Decree on January 8, 1974, which prohibited ‘all activities amounting to denial, opposition, distortion or criticism of the Constitution’ and banned the suggestion or instigation of such acts or telling others about them. (…). Essentially, it outlawed any criticism of the Yusin constitution and the emergency decree itself, criminalized any talk of constitutional change, and prohibited political meetings, demonstrations, and unauthorized student political activities. Even media coverage of such activities was punishable by law for spreading ‘false rumors.’ Violators were subject to imprisonment from one to ten years. This notorious decree was not abolished until December 1979 following President Park’s death in October. (Kim, Marie Seong-Hak)With the multiple Emergency Decrees that President Park put in place, it was very difficult for the people to be vocal about the problems that were affecting them, or the negative policies and government. Park’s emphasis on industrialization and supporting chaebols development was hurting a lot of people. Whenever workers attempted to unionize, or attempts to raise their wages were unsuccessful; the government intervened and always sided with the management of the chaebols and put down the protests. Although economically South Korea was getting stronger, a lot of the citizens were struggling and suffering, and unable to get their government to listen to their concerns and take them seriously. So, this oppressive situation was created under Park Chung-hee; where people were working long hours for low wages, any problems with the chaebol leadership and working conditions were immediately suppressed, there was no outlet or solutions to their daily problems, and the government in trying to rapidly industrialize would not take any actions to help the people. With Park Chung-hee’s assassination on October 26th, 1979, students, activists, and people believed that the “Yushin regime” was over, and that the Yushin constitution would be dismantled. For the following months, workers across many industries had disputes and made significant gains in getting better working conditions, students also demanded academic freedom and social reform. However, as this progress was just beginning there was a faction that wanted to maintain the Yushin system, and on December 12th 1979, Chun Doo-hwan and armed forces staged a coup and succeeded; The coup itself took only ten hours, from the evening of 12 December till dawn the next day, but eight months passed before President Choi was forced to resign and Chun replaced him, setting the record for the “longest coup in world history.” While maintaining the martial law, Chun and his faction thoroughly prepared and executed plans to manipulate public opinion in order to lay the political and socio-psychological foundation that would justify their ascent to power. (Ahn, Jong-cheol)Because of this battle for power, and the new government attempting to use force to justify their right to rule the country, students and groups all across the country began to protest the new government and their maintenance of martial law. The people’s rejection of the new government, how they came into power, and the government’s response to the people; all led to the Gwangju Uprising in May 1980. Chun was in desperate need to legitimize his government and his power but he knew it would be impossible without suppressing the push for democratization. May 14, 1980 was the last day of the “Praying for National Democratization Week” the demonstration in front of the Chonnam National University (CNU) main gate where forces were used and a large amount of people were arrested (Ahn, Jong-cheol). The student protests starting on May 14, 1980 (the last day of the “Praying for Democratization Week”) when 40 representatives of 27 universities in Seoul, South Korea gathered in the streets protesting around Korea University that morning. Over 7,000 university students in the Seoul area poured into the streets; shouting “repeal the martial law,” “Chun Doo-hwan step down,” “oust the remaining Yusin forces,” “protect the freedom of press,” and “protect basic labor rights,” (Ahn Jong-cheol). That day was the ignition towards what was about to occur in the near future for Korea. The next day, May 15, 1980 around 100,000 students gathered in Seoul, Busan, Incheon, and Gwangju, which continued until May 16. During the three-day protests that occurred in Gwangju, no force was used against the protestors by police. The police were cooperative and behaved well, only using force to prevent huge accidents from taking place. The protests for those three days; university students, high school students, and citizens participated (Ahn, Jong-cheol). Although there were no clashes between the police and protesters during those three days; this was when Chun decided that he will get rid of the democratization movement by force. The nationwide martial law was then declared on May 17, 1980 at midnight. That night, the military occupied all the universities of Gwangju and began arresting thousands of students. The next morning, fully armed paratroopers blocked gates of universities and told students “If you do not return home immediately, you will be dismissed by force” (Kahn-chae, Na). The students retaliated and the spread the word to the community, thousands of students joined the protests and the confrontation with the police, but many of them were injured because of what they were doing. It became dangerous to even be on the streets because these troops assaulted young people for even standing near the streets even if they were not taking part in the demonstrations. It became so violent in a matter of seconds, “those who tried to resist were quickly surrounded by soldiers and trampled and beaten even more severely. Those who fainted from the beating were dragged along and thrown into trucks. The streets turned quiet in less than 30 minutes” (Ahn Jong-cheol). The violent suppression had no limits, and it only worsened. Troops did house raids and dragged out young men out of their own houses. Families and people saw these men get brutally beaten and taken away. During this time “hundreds of thousands of citizens joined” the students, especially the “lower class laborers, the poor, the homeless, middle and high school students” (Kahn-chae, Na). This continued until the morning of May 21, 1980; what first started as suppression, but on that day, it became a bloodbath. “Consequently, the leadership of the Uprising shifted from the students to ordinary people and the activists from various organizations of the civic movement during the armed struggle after the 21st (Kahn-chae, Na). Paratroopers made the decision of opening fire on Gwangju citizens. This now became a dirty civil war between civilians who were seeking justice and fully armed and trained special forces that did not know when to stop,On the evening of 21 May the army abandoned the provincial administrative building and retreated to the outskirts of the city. People formed a cooperative community and kept the city under control until the army reentered on 27 May. The paratroopers raided the provincial administrative building by force on 27 May and the Gwangju Uprising came to an end (Ahn Jong-cheol). Starting on the 21st groups emerged and began to take part and organize the Uprising, the first of which were Deulbul, Gwangdae, and Songbaekhoe. Deulbul Night School was a group of laborers and teachers who were a part of the Labor Movement; they would take part in the Struggle Solidarity and would produce and distribute the Fighter’s Bulletin. Theater Gwangdae were university students who were also a part of the Struggle Solidarity; they performed plays to inform the public of their views and also managed the citizens’ rallies. Songbaekhoe was also a part of the Struggle Solidarity and was a women’s group that helped imprisoned activists. The Struggle Solidarity was formed with these three groups and the Young Christian Workers (JOC) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA); these groups had already worked together in the past and worked together during the Uprising. On the 22nd the Citizen Settlement Committee (CSC) and the Students’ Settlement Committee (SSC) came into play as the Settlement Solidarity; and their roles were to negotiate with the Martial Law Command. It’s important to note that both of these groups formed during the Uprising and had no experience with social movements, they both had different ideas on how to negotiate and that made it difficult to have “strong solidarity” (Kahn-chae, Na). On the 24th the YWCA got involved and had the “activists of the Struggle Solidarity meet and discuss forming the Citizen-Student Struggle Committee”(Kahn-chae, Na). Then on the 25th all of the small groups were working together and “were able to enter the Provincial Municipal Building” there were arguments about moving forward and they created the Citizen-Student Struggle Committee (CSSC) from the SSC and CSC, along with members of the other groups having important roles, and this group became the “new leading group” (Kahn-chae, Na). On the 26th they were making preparations to fight, had discussions concerning holding funerals for victims on the 28th, and also attempted to delay the Martial Law Army’s Attack deadline (Kahn-chae, Na). The army gave the citizens one last opportunity to disarm by 5 p.m., but many refused and prepared to battle the army in the Provincial Municipal Building (Kahn-chae, Na). At 2 a.m. on the the 27th the army broadcast to the citizens that they were coming, gunshots were heard, and by 4 a.m. it was over and the “Provincial Municipal Building was littered with dead members of the Citizens’ Militia” (Kahn-chae, Na). Although the people were able to take control of parts of the city and push out the army for about a week, the civilians of Gwangju had suffered for almost two weeks during this process. Students, families, and many people were killed because of their desire for justice, in a completely unjust battle. “Though the fight did last for only a day after the CSSC was formed, the death of the Citizens’ Militia became the main symbol to the movements of democracy and freedom in Korea over the following two decades” (Kahn-chae, Na).According to official statistics, around 161 people died, 64 missing 2,948 people were wounded, and 1,364 arrested or detained (Ahn, Jong-cheol). Following the Uprising, Chun Doo-hwan while lying to the public about what occurred in Gwangju, had the government pay 4.2 million won to each family that lost a loved one; and this included consolation money and funeral costs. The people who were injured also received money. However the people were still unsatisfied with the way that this was handled, and that perpetrators of these crimes were not punished.When Roh Tae-woo became President, he admitted and took partial responsibility for what had taken place during the suppression of Gwangju. He pledged during his presidential campaign that he would take desperate measures in order to resolve the issues in Gwangju. One of the first measures Roh Tae-woo took for the people of Gwangju was setting up an agency named National Reconciliation Committee (NRC). The NRC mainly focused on Gwangju and how it could resolve its’ issues step by step. The NRC determined that “the direct cause of the Gwangju Uprising was excessive suppression by the army.” But at the same time, stating that citizens had committed unlawful actions such as “invading the jail,” it took the position that neither side was totally responsible or completely innocent (Ahn Jong-cheol).The Roh Tae-woo government issued an announcement to heal the Gwangju Incident in April 1988 (Ahn, Jong-cheol). This announcement contained information of how the Uprising occurred and the reportings of the dead and injured. It also discussed the money that was compensated and memorials that were established. Instead of expressing a commitment to seek the truth, Roh wanted to ease the intensity of the religionism to secure its power base for the presidential election in 1987 and distance from the previous government. Attention was also focused to distract the public for the Gwangju uprising and giving those responsible proper punishment because the victims accepted the compensation.After additional reporting on May 18, 1988, $3 million was given to those families of proven victims, labeled as a “likelihood protection fund”. Debates were started, all opposing parties and organizations in relation to the Uprising made the government pay $30 million to the victims families temporarily. The Democratic Liberal Party gave up passing negotiation for the political parties and Uprising organizations debate for the compensation bill and pushed the Special Act on the victims of the Gwangju Democratization Movement in July of 1990 used to merge the ruling party with two opposition parties (Ahn Jong-cheol). The merger was used to change the political balance in the National Assembly.A total of 2,693 victims filed for compensation when the Gwangju Compensation Act was put into effect. Each was crossed checked, and closely reviewed by three different committees and an end of 2,224 received 142.8 billion dollars in total. Roh government tried to bring the problem to a conclusion with the money, but the May Movement Council wasn’t in agreeance with money, but instead wanted legislation that realize the five principles for the resolution of the problem of Gwangju?investigation, punishment of those responsible, restoration of victims’ honor, reparation, and memorial projects (Ahn Jong-cheol). In 1988, with negotiation, ruling and opposition parties submitted a bill to the National Assembly to create a committee to discover the truth about what really happened in the Gwangju Uprising, the bill was passed that June. The truth was revealed and it was found that the United States had a role in the blood suppression of the Uprising, as well as that the military had fired upon civilians wounding and killing them. Those who gave orders to the military for their actions was also revealed.May 18 Gwangju Uprising made some visible progress within the institutional framework of the National Assembly, the Kim Young-sam regime….was no different from the preceding Chun and Roh regimes in its refrain from investigation and punishment of the criminals of the massacre. Observing the limitations of the civilian government, many came to think that the civilian government’s will to resolve the problem of the Uprising remains at the same level as the military administrations under Chun and Roh and it must start all over again from the beginning. (Ahn Jong-cheol).President Kim Young-sam rejected the demand for an investigation for those to be punished in the Gwangju Uprising in his speech on May 13, 1993. People then signed and campaigned to get those who have committed such act to be prosecuted and the One Million Signature Movement was launched after going nationwide for signatures in September of 1995. In October (1995), Roh Tae-woo was charged with illicit accumulation of wealth and President Kim ordered for those accountable to be prosecuted. In December, the National Assembly passed the Gwangju Act, the Special Act on the Statutory Limitations for the Crimes of Disrupting Constitutional Order was also passed. The Special Act also had statutory limitations that shouldn’t be applied to crimes that caused a civil war, invasion of foreign country, military coup, or a massacre.