[Major International News and Event] 100 Days of Protest to Preserve the May 18 Democratic Uprising Site

December 15 marked the 100th day of the marquee protest to preserve the old Jeollanamdo Provincial Office Building, which was the last site of contention during the May 18 Democratic Uprising. That day, the Pan-Citizen Committee for the Preservation of the Old Jeollanamdo Provincial Office Building (the “Committee”) threw a 100th day celebration event to showcase and reaffirm their robust will.

The Committee was organized by Gwangju Metropolitan City, the Metropolitan Council, the educational office, political parties, and civic organizations and exerted its utmost efforts to preserve the old Jeollanamdo Provincial Office Building where traces and trails of contention during the May 18 Democratic Uprising remain. Approximately 10,000 citizens visited the marquee to encourage the protestors and participated in the signature collection campaign. Meanwhile, an exhibition of the May 18 Democratic Uprising is being held in the plaza in front of the annex to the old Jeollanamdo Provincial Office Building, serving as an opportunity for citizens to recall the memories of the days.

In addition, many bullet holes were found in the Jeonil Building, where citizens ran from the old Jeollanamdo Provincial Office Plaza and fountain and hid from the martial force during the May 18 Democratic Uprising. On December 14, the National Institute of Scientific Investigation conducted a supplementary investigation of the bullet holes in the Jeonil Building with Gwangju Metropolitan City and organizations relevant to the May 18 Democratic Uprising participating as observers. Approximately 100 bullet holes, which are believed to have been shot from a helicopter, were found on the tenth floor of the building. Tens bullet holes were found on the pillars, floor, and ceiling. Given the directions of the bullet holes, the institute assumed that the bullets were shot from the old provincial office in the direction of the Geumnamro at a height reachable by a helicopter. This is attracting particular attention, as it is likely to serve as concrete evidence that the gunshots were fired from helicopters, which until now has been based only on witness testimonials and denied by the Army with no official records.

Built as a seven-story building in December 1968, the Jeonil Building now stands as a ten-story building after some expansions and refurbishments. The May 18 Foundation and relevant organizations have called for measures to preserve the building given its historic significance, and this investigation may serve as momentum to encourage the city’s willingness to keep the building.

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