REMEMBERING A MARTYR OF DEMOCRACY
Democracy came to South Korea in 1987, after many years of peoples’ struggle against dictatorship. It is important to remember that struggle, and how the rights have been achieved at great cost.
On Maundy Thursday, March 28, special memorial services were held for the important journalist and activist for democracy, Jang JunHa, who had died in 1975, as he played a leadership role in the actions against dictator Park Chung Hee. Two days before, on March 26, 2013, the results of a forensic investigation into the death of Jang, had declared him the victim of homicide.
Jang had been a leading character in the resistance to the dictatorial Yushin Constitution, which was brought into effect under President Park in 1972. He was winner of the prestigious Magsaysay Award for Literature. He was imprisoned 9 times under Park’s regime, released for the last time in Dec., 1974. In 1975 his body was found dead near a mountain outside Seoul. The government ruled his death the result of a mountain-climbing accident.
However, in August last year, Jang’s remains were relocated, and were seen for the first time in 37 years. At that time, it was noted that there was a fracture on his skull that would indicate a blow to the head. Family members asked President Lee Myung Bak to order an investigation. They were supported by citizens groups and the opposition party. Finally, in Dec., Jang’s remains were disinterred and submitted for examination.
A citizens’ coalition vowed to recognize this important occasion. A number of faith groups were asked to lead memorial services in these days. NCCK held the first, at City Hall Plaza at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 28, led by members of the Justice and Peace Committee. The sermon by Chairperson Rev. Huh Won Bae was entitled “the bones cry out”. Memorial address was given by Rev. Park Deok Shin, himself an activist in the democracy movement.
That afternoon a later service was held by Catholics, the next day by Won Buddhists and
By these memorials the participants recommitted themselves to the ideals for which Jang
Jun Ha had died.