Recently, a movie was released about a German reporter and taxi driver who informed the world of the 5.18 Gwangju Democratization Movement. According to the Korean Film Council, the film received over 10 million viewers. I watched this movie, Taxi Driver, and trembled with rage during the entire running time. A few days later, there was news about Chun Doo-hwan, the culprit of the 5.18 Gwangju Democratization Movement. He said that the movement was not a democratic movement; rather, it was a riot. He said that if the movie is “way over the top,” he will review the legal responses. Of course, his remarks provoked public outrage.
Above all, the root of the Gwangju Democratization Movement was Chun Doo-hwan’s military government. In 1979, his new government seized possession of the military by the military insurgency. On May 17, 1980, emergency martial law spread throughout the country, expanding the government’s role in a grab for political power. On May 18, when universities were closing, there was a conflict between students and the army enforcing martial law. Gwangju citizens were exasperated by the merciless suppression of martial law forces, and there was a massive demonstration in the middle of the city—the Gwangju Democratization Movement—, which resulted in extensive casualties and a true political tragedy after the Korean War.
In this summary, I cannot describe the violence in sufficient detail, but I can verify that the violence depicted in Taxi Driver was not an exaggeration. Therefore, Chun’s claim hurt the victims and incurred the public’s wrath. Even though he received a pardon, he will be known historically and in the hearts of the victims as a terrible criminal. He must consider the hearts of citizens and repent.
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