Address to the People on the 24th Anniversary of the June 10th Democratic Uprising: Let’s Achieve National Reunification and Create a New Civilization through a Full-Scale and Tireless Democracy ..

My beloved fellow citizens!

The masses that marched and cried out for the end to the deferment of constitutional reforms and the termination of authoritarian rule drove out the oppression and the dictatorship of the military regime that lasted 25 years 󈝾 years under Park Chung Hee and 7 years under Chun Doo Hwan.

We pay tribute today to the June 10th Democratic Uprising - the great battle through which the people won this democracy, in that hot month of June, 24 years ago.

We extol and take pride in the blood, sweat, tears, hope, solidarity, cooperation, sharing and friendship of the millions of people who rose up to take part in the righteous fight of the June Democratic Uprising.

We cannot forget, in the ranks of those countless righteous people who rose up, the names of the heroic youths Park Jong-cheol and Lee Han-yeol and their sacrifice.

I stand here to confirm before our fellow citizens that we must not forget the sacrifice of the young day laborer Park Yong-su, who, gravely worried over the break up of the two opposition leaders Kim Yong-sam and Kim Dae-jung, gave up his life at the altar of democracy, calling for the unity of the two Kims.

My respected fellow citizens!

With the June 10th Democratic Uprising, our democracy moved forward.

Political democracy made progress, and through the grand struggle of the workers that summer, the basic rights of the working people who suffered under oppression and exploitation were restored to some extent.

The tone of citizens’ talk became bright and distinct.

As much as we have ample room for assessing and enjoying the advance of democracy, we are at the same time ashamed of the division and the retrogression of some democratic forces, particularly of the political community, that seek to privatize or regionalize the fruits of the democratic struggle following the June Democratic Uprising.

My fellow citizens!

Where are we now and to where should we be headed?

What is the present state of our democracy and what should be done about its future?

Our democracy is being damaged. It is in retreat.

It is being sectionalized and fragmented.

There are various forces and organized actions that belittle democracy and turn it into an abstraction, or negate it.

In the name of the market, law, capital, order, and theory, they challenge democracy.

In the current situation where democracy is not being properly taken care of and not being further developed reside our own laziness, lack of thoroughness, and inertia.

My fellow citizens! My respected democratic citizens!

Where are we now and to where should we be headed?

Politics has lost its center of balance and is engrossed in playing the role of a feudal lord on the fringes.

In the economic sphere, monopolies and exclusion are becoming structural within the high-stepping buildup of massive capital.

We see the breakdown of community in our society. Our society is filled with corruption and the resignation and anger of the youths and college students.

In the cultural sphere, cheap, commercial and imitative culture is trampling on the healthy domain that seeks truth, good and beauty based on sweat and hard work.

As for the environment and the ecosystems, the nation’s mountains, rivers and numerous living things are being destroyed under all sorts of special laws, expediencies and development blueprints.

For our divided motherland and scattered people a new regime of division is taking shape within the changing power dynamics of Northeast Asia.

I won’t list in detail any more examples of our stagnation and retrogression.

We must rightly accept the laudable progress made by our community, our nation, Korea, the only country in the world that has simultaneously achieved both democratization and industrialization in the post-World War II era. But at the same time, we must also rightly understand the vanity, retrogression and division spreading like cancer in our society today, as well as the desperation and resentment of the poor, the unemployed, and those with insecure jobs.

My fellow citizens, I appeal to you with urgency.

Let’s protect our dignity.

Let’s not forget for a moment that the people are the masters of this nation and confirm that small things and diligence, rather than the all-consuming concern for big things and becoming rich, lead to the path of life.

Let’s build a strong foundation of democracy.

We must further advance political democracy, and we must make greater effort to achieve economic and social democracy so that the working people, the weak and the mistreated can rightly express their opinions and make a living.

In order to unify our divided motherland, let us unify our own society first and as we do so embrace our North Korean compatriots.

To the future generations for how long will we remain foolish ancestors who engage in the false left-right arguments about the issue of Korea’s reunification?

Our reunification means a suffering people becoming one. And it will become a grand achievement in world history that establishes a strong foundation of peace in Northeast Asia. It must also serve as a new alternative and a paradigm shift for a civilization intoxicated by materialism, money, modern science and technology, and giant industries.

My fellow citizens!

The world we seek to achieve is a society of coexistence and openness that has overcome monopolies and exclusions.

The civilization we aim for is not a big civilization that produces, consumes and discards massive amounts of goods but a civilization of life and living that produces and consumes a needed amount and discards as little as possible.

To achieve a reunified motherland and a new civilization, we will develop democracy to a greater depth and move forward with the strength and power of such a democracy.

Our people will move forward to ultimately match the development of democracy, completion of national reunification, and improvement of people’s daily lives with the world of life and peace. This, I believe, is our hope and commitment as we commemorate the June 10th Democratic Uprising.

Thank you.


June 10, 2011

Chung Sunghun

President, Korea Democracy Foundation