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[Editorial] True Heroes of Democracy

Posted January. 12, 2007 06:35,   


January 14th of this year marks the 20th anniversary of Park Jong-chul’s death due to torture, which sparked the June Civil Uprising in 1987. The incident, which took place at the last stage of a dictatorial government, ignited the people’s longing for democracy and became the cause of the uprising. With the incident as momentum, the despotic rule of the Jeon Doo-hwan administration came to an end and democracy has become an irreversible political system that cannot be taken away from the people. In this regard, Park is the never-dying spark and the symbol of Korean democracy.

The Dong-A Ilbo has pride in its contribution to democracy by taking the initiative in reporting Park’s case for six months until the June 29th Declaration of Democratization in 1987. The Dong-A Ilbo which exposed the case in earnest despite pressure from the government saw the record high sales of about 600,000 copies just on the streets of the Gwanghwamun area, Seoul. In recognition of the excellent investigation, the Journalists Association of Korea gave awards to the journalists of The Dong-A Ilbo who worked on the case. This wouldn’t have been possible if there wasn’t countless conscious people’s courage and eagerness to bring democracy.

In recognition of its contribution, the government-run Korea Democracy Foundation and the June Civil Uprising Memorial Foundation also requested the manuscript of the June Civil Uprising Documentary from The Dong-A Ilbo to preserve the process of investigating the case as historical records. “The in-depth investigative articles of The Dong-A Ilbo made people outraged over the human rights violations of the dictatorial government,” a foundation official said.

The Commission for Democratization Movement Activists` Honor-Restoration and Compensation has even given pro-North Korean activists the Certificate of Contribution in Democratization and paid compensation. Having the government’ support, newspapers and broadcasters which used to serve as the voices of dictatorial governments are now referred to as reformed media. Meanwhile, major media, including The Dong-A Ilbo, are being accused as media which need reform.

The 386 generation politicians have not only received enough compensation but also have taken numerous major government positions while pretending as if they are the sole contributors in bring democracy in Korea despite the fact that democracy could set its foot in Korea because of the eagerness of the people. However, reporters, journalists and groups of white collar workers who took the initiative in the June Civil Uprising on the streets filled with tear gas have to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Park’s death far away from the celebration of their own.

The government will carry out various projects to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the June Civil Uprising. However, we have to watch out and prevent these projects from turning into the parties of pro-North Korean and anti-American groups. We must not let the sacrifice of Park and the innocence of the June Civil Pursing be offended.