Led by a conservative president, his aides, his Cabinet, and the entire ruling conservative party were aboard South Korea's KTX bullet train Wednesday morning heading to the nation's southwestern city of Gwangju to pay tribute to those who perished during the May 18 Pro-Democracy Movement in 1980.
It was a scene not seen before for a conservative government.
At the ceremony marking 42 years since the bloody crackdown on civilians by the then-military junta led by late ex-President Chun Doo-hwan, President Yoon offered his deepest condolences to those who lost their lives during the movement and their families adding the entire nation remembers the May resistance in which they fought for liberal democracy and the value of human rights with blood.
"The May spirit means restoration of universal values and the Constitutional spirit of liberal democracy itself. That spirit belongs to all of us, and is a valuable asset of the Republic of Korea."
Visiting the word 'freedom' or 'liberal' 12 times throughout his six-minute long speech, the new South Korean leader referred to the May 18th spirit as a living history that should be passed down for generations and spread throughout the world.
"The values of liberal democracy and human rights are the 'philosophy of integration' that unites our people. Therefore, the May spirit, which defended liberal democracy with blood, is the cornerstone of national unity."
And, for the first time ever for a conservative president, Mr. Yoon, hand in hand with the bereaved families, sang out loud "Marching for Our Beloved," a song dedicated to those who perished during the pro-democracy movement in Gwangju on May 18th, 1980.
Clearly the new conservative president's efforts to close the regional divide in South Korea and re-define the pro-democracy spirit of 42 years ago as that of all South Korean people
"We, the people of the Republic of Korea, who love freedom, justice, and the truth, are all citizens of Gwangju."
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.