On this day 72 years ago, Korea gained independence from Japan and was liberated. 광복절, pronounced Gwangbokjeol, which literally translates to the day light returned, i.e liberation day, means a lot to Koreans all over the world and it’s wildly celebrated as the day Korea freed itself from the clutches of Japan’s rule. Even though independence was gained on the 13th of August, 1948, it is officially celebrated on the 15th of August. Here are 10 interesting facts surrounding Korea’s independence.
1. The Japanese took control of every aspect of Korea in 1910.
2. After the first world war and before independence, there were close to 1 million Korean immigrants living in Japan.
3. Terauchi Masatake was the first Japanese Governor General of Korea.
4. Before independence, thousands of young girls and women, known as “comfort women” were turned into sexual slaves by the imperial Japanese rule.
5. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized and his government agreed to pay South Korea’s government $8.3 million. Many Koreans were dissatisfied with the deal and protested against it at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
6. Taegukgi, South Korea’s National flag, is hoisted all over the country to pay homage for those who fought and gave their lives for independence.
7. It is known as 조국해방의 날 (Jogukhaebangui nal) in North Korea, which translates to liberation of father’s land day, which is also wildly celebrated in North Korea and often times used to showcase their military strength.
8. Free concerts are organized all over the country.
9. Under the Japanese imperialism, Korean language was banned and even Korean names had to be changed.
10. In 1940, the Provisional Government of Korea (PGK), with help and training from a US special military unit, organized volunteer fighters and declared war against Japan and were finally liberated in 1945.
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