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18 year old martyr, Yu Gwan-sun Updated: 2011-03-01 00:00:00 KST

Many high school girls are getting off the bus at the Yu Gwan-sun's Memorial Hall in Cheonan. What could be the purpose of their visit[Interview : Jeon Ji-won, First-year student
Ewha Girls' High School] "I'm here to attend an orientation for new students.
I hope to commemorate Yu Gwan-sun, who used to be a student at this school, and learn about her patriotic spirit."

Now called Ewha Girls' High School, Ewha Hakdang was Yu Gwan-sun's former school.

The new students of Ewha Girls' High visit this memorial hall every year as part of their 2 day orientation, and get to learn about martyr Yu Gwan-sun.


[Interview : ] "Yu Gwan-sun died in Seodaemun Prison, but the remains were never found"

Standing before her monument, the students burn incense and pay their silent tributes to Yu Gwan-sun as well as to many other patriots.
The Japanese occupation of Korea is a significant part of the Korean history.

On March 1st, 1919, the promulgation of the Korean Declaration of Independence triggered a widespread movement where large crowds took to the streets to protest against the Japanese rule.

Amongst them was Yu Gwan-sun, an 18-year-old student who handed out Korean National flags to the crowds and led the popular uprising.

[Interview : Park Chung-sun, Director
Baekseok University Yugwansun Research Center] "It is true that Yu Gwan-sun played a pivotal role in the March 1st Movement, but the independence movement was not orchestrated by her alone.
Nevertheless, her short life as an independence fighter is a poignant lesson for all of us."

She became not only the symbol of the March 1st Movement, but also the representative female independence activist.


Behind the memorial hall of Yu Gwan-sun in Cheoan is located her birthplace.

Inside the rooms of the restored house are wax figures that vividly reenact Yu Gwan-sun's past life.


[Interview : ] "Is this where Yu Gwan-sun was born[Interview : ] "She was born here, but this isn't her original house. It was rebuilt."
[Interview : Choi Seok-jung, Vice principal
Ewha Girls' High School] "With her religious faith, Yu Gwan-sun rose against the atrocious persecutions against human dignity that were carried out during the Japanese colonial rule.
So every year we bring our students here to help them understand the invincible spirit of this martyr, who also was a student at Ewha."

[Interview : Doh Jae-in, First-year student
Ewha Girls' High School] "Yu Gwan-sun is not just a former student of my school but also my role model."

[Interview : Park Seon-ha, First-year student
Ewha Girls' High School] "The reason I entered this school in the first place was because it was Yu Gwan-sun's alma mater.
My dream is to become a policewoman, and I want to follow in her footsteps and emulate her patriotism.

A devout Christian, Yu Gwan-sun came across new fields of studies at church and began to nurture her dreams.

Then one of the missionaries, impressed by her brilliance, recommended her as a scholarship student at Ewha Hakdang. And it was at this school that Yu Gwan-sun learned to love her country and its people.

[Interview : Kim Jeong-ae, Representative of Yu Gwan-sun's descendents] "Although Ewha Hakdang mission school was originally founded for missionary works, I heard thatmany of the teachers at that time secretly instilled patriotism into their students during classes.
Their teachings had a great influence on many students, including Yu Gwan-sun.



Today, Ewha Girls' High School is considered a must-visit attraction on Jeongdong Street.

Founded in 1886 by an American missionary, it was Korea's first educational institution for women. Yu Gwan-sun transferred here in 1916 and lived in the dormitory.

The high school has reenacted the classroom where she used to study in the past, and also built a memorial hall in her name to commemorate their former student.

100 years have already passed since her tragic death, but the traces and memories of Yu Gwan-sun lives on here.

[Interview : Kim Su-min, 3rd-year student
Ewha Girls' High School] "I can't believe that Yu Gwan-sun was my age at the time of her death.
I've always thought of her as a woman who carried out great deeds, not as a teenager like me, because I can't imagine someone my age doing something so noble for her country."

[Interview : Park So-hyun, 3rd-year student
Ewha Girls' High School] "Most teenagers nowadays are focused on their individual lives and lack historical awareness.
If I was in Yu Gwan-sun's shoes, I would probably have tried to run away and avoid the situation."

Despite her young age, Yu Gwan-sun displayed an indomitable spirit in the face of inhumane torture and threats, clearly showing her iron will to realize Korea's independence.

[Interview : Park Chung-sun, Director
Baekseok University Yugwansun Research Center] "A leader that the world needs today is not someone who makes everyone blindedly obey him or her, but a person who helps others realize their fullest potentials.
And Yu Gwan-sun was such a leader."



Yu Gwan-sun led some 3,000 demonstrators while yelling out "Long live Korea's independence!".

Not only is she a symbol of Korea's independent movement but she also symbolizes the unwaivering spirit and inner strength for younger generations to learn.

[Interview : Kim Jeong-ae, Representative of Yu Gwan-sun's descendents] "I believe that what we need more than ever is the earnest yearning for independence shown by the patriotic Yu Gwan-sun,
who gave her life for her country at such a young age."


Sir,
I am prepared to lay down my life for my country.
Independence will come when just one tenth
of my 20 million compatriots decide to
sacrifice their lives for this country.
- From Yu Gwan-sun's letter written in prison in 1919
to Park In-deok, her teacher



I'm more curious about what she was like as an ordinary 18 year old.

[Reporter : ] It's quite hard to imagine her as an ordinary highschool student, isn't it And it's mentioned in the clip how she epitomizes what a good leader should be can you elaborate on that[Reporter : ] Yu Gwan-sun is also very well known for her pacifist and altruistic attributes.. For example, when she was captured in Seodaemun prison and suffering from countless tortures by the Japanese officials depsite her weak physical condition, she reportedly helped other prisoners..especially with a new mother who had just given birth to her baby.

Thank you for that story, Hee-ju. We'll be looking forward to seeing you next week.
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