Soon the black and white changed to a vividly colored scene of an elementary school kid sitting on his 70 years old grandfather’s knees, listening to the old man talk about the time he fought for the people in this country’s rights.
This was the outline of a TV program I saw a month ago, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the April 19 Movement in 1960.
The spring was full of demonstrations and social movements in the past, when full-brown democracy was not achieved yet. This year is also the 30th anniversary of the May 18, 1980 Gwangju Pro-Democracy Movement.
University students were at the center of social movements against the authoritarian government. They fought hard to make Korean society what it is today.
Compared to university students in the past, students these days lack social consciousness. They are exposed to an environment of free-for-all competition, so getting more A+ marks on their report cards and higher scores on the TOEIC test have become their main goals.
It is true that we are now living in the society where our freedoms and basic rights are safely ensured under laws enforced by a democratic government. Our spring has come. For this, we can thank to the past generations. However, other social problems remain.
When we look around with a wider perspective, we can see people whose basic rights are trampled underfoot like irregular workers, underfed children, and people with disabilities. Moreover, the number of people who cannot meet the minimum cost of living, including foreign workers from developing countries, North Korean refugees, and kids in multicultural families, is increasing. These people probably need some help from others, maybe from you.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities open to university students right now. While university students in the past fought for the freedom of the whole country, now is the time for you to help some people find their own spring. Open your eyes and hear their voices. That can be a way to make your own story to tell your grandchildren.