2016 University Student 3.1 Declaration of Independence: - standing by “comfort women” issue -
2016 University Student 3.1 Declaration of Independence: - standing by “comfort women” issue -
  • Lim Ye-ju
  • 승인 2016.03.14 11:38
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On March 1, 1919, many Koreans gathered to oppose the Japanese colonial rule to announce the Declaration of Independence, paving the way for Korea’s independence from Japanese colonial rule. Since the independence on Aug. 15, 1945, March 1 has been designated as Independence Day in order to remember the efforts of many who fought for national independence. This year, following the footsteps of the ancestors, many university students gathered once again to bring about a grand change to the society and fight for their beliefs.
The first step of the 2016 University Student 3.1 Declaration of Independence was taken place in front of the “comfort women” statue near Ewha Womans University. The event started by reciting the Declaration of Independence, and continued as a parade to Cheonggye Plaza. Students marched down the streets chanting the slogans such as “Save the comfort women statue,” and “Stop distorting history.”
Participants were divided into three groups according to their demands to the government. The first group asked for the abandonment of the Korea-Japan agreement on the subject of “comfort women,” which was settled on Dec. 28, 2015. Many believed that this agreement did not provide proper apologies to “comfort women” regarding what they had to go through. The second group argued for the abolition of government-designated history textbooks, and the last group asked for the peace between North and South Korea. The long march of university students has continued for seven hours.
“Each group had their own atmosphere marching as they each had their own ideas on how to express their demands,” said Choi Ja-in, a representative of Ewha Nabi, which is a student club that works to promote the rights of the “comfort women.” “Group one, which I took part in, had the most upbeat atmosphere. We walked down the streets holding comfort women statues made of Styrofoam with a flower which symbolizes comfort women, and yellow umbrellas.”
At the Cheonggye Plaza, the second part of the event began, which focused on the topic of “getting justice back together.” Students were given the chance to stand up and express their ideas on the Korea-Japan Agreement. Following the enthusiastic discussion, plays regarding the “comfort women” issue were put on. Other activities also took place such as special performances and poems using the acronym of “comfort women.”
“Last year, a rather abrupt agreement between Korea and Japan was made regarding the ‘comfort women’ issue,” said Lee Hae-ji, the president of Ewha’s 48th Student Government Association, who also participated in the event. “This particular event provided a chance for university students to show their will to continue denouncing the agreement.”
Afterwards, another march started from Cheonggye Plaza to Japanese Embassy, where the Statue of Peace is situated. In front of the Statue of Peace, students who stayed by the statue to protest were awarded with the Statue of Peace awards, recognizing their efforts of raising awareness of the “comfort women” issue. With the awarding ceremony, the event came to an end.
Choi mentioned that it was a great experience in that the event could help raise awareness and assert that there are still many people fighting for the “comfort women” issue.
“Everyone knows deep inside  that we have to pay more attention to the ‘comfort women’ issue and that the Korea-Japan Agreement should be abolished deep inside their minds,” Choi said. “However, the process of putting the thoughts into actions is quite difficult. I wish more Ewha students would take part in the activities similar to the one I participated in and learn the joy of bonding together, and the belief that we could come up with a solution.”

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