Independence Movement Day is a holiday celebrated in South Korea on March 1 every year. This day marks one of the earliest public displays of Korean resistance. It took place on March 1, 1919, which gives it’s named ‘Samil Jeol’, Three-One Movement, or March First Movement. An estimated two million people attended peaceful demonstrations to protest Japan’s occupation of Korea. The demonstrations started in Korea’s capital city Seoul, and soon spread to other parts of the country. The Korean Declaration of Independence was read at a rally in Tapgol Park.
History of Independence Movement Day
Independence Movement Day became a national commemoration day in 1946 — one year after Korea gained independence. It was declared a national holiday on May 24, 1949. Thirty-three Korean religious and cultural leaders started the movement. They created a Korean Proclamation of Independence to oppose the Japanese rule of Korea that lasted from 1910 to 1945. Koreans had been denied many freedoms. A mass demonstration was organized in Seoul on March 1, 1919, which was their late emperor’s commemoration day.
The 33 leaders hoped to draw international attention and pressure on Japan and end her colonial rule in Korea. The proclamation was signed and read in town, and many people gathered to hear a student named Chung Jae-Yong read the declaration. The gathering formed a peaceful procession. Other special delegates of the movement read the independence proclamation from designated places around the country at precisely 2 p.m. that day.
The movement lasted 12 months until the Japanese suppressed it. By this time, about two million Koreans had joined more than 1,500 demonstrations across the country. During the movements, it was recorded that about 7,000 people were killed, and about 16,000 people were wounded. Approximately 715 homes, 47 churches, and two schools were destroyed by fire. Over 46,000 people were arrested, and about 10,000 were tried and convicted.
Independence Movement Day timeline
The Empire of Japan colonizes Korea after years of war.
A mass movement begins one of the earliest displays of Korean resistance.
The country is no longer considered a part of Japan.
Independence Movement Day is declared a national holiday.
Independence Movement Day FAQs
Why is March 1 important in Korea?
It is a holiday that marks the special movement that began Korea’s journey to independence.
What phrase was used in the March 1 Independence Movement?
The Korean protesters chanted “Long Live Korean Independence!” during the March 1 Movement.
When did South Korea claim independence?
The National Liberation Day of Korea is celebrated every year on August 15.
How to Observe Independence Movement Day
Display the flag
The holiday is commemorated by a prominent display of the South Korean flag. This is done in many Korean homes and businesses.
Take part in the holiday by attending festivals and events. There are usually lots of concerts and other activities on this day.
Visit Tapgol Park
The Korean Declaration of Independence was read in Tapgol on March 1, just as it was read in 1919. Attend the reading to pay respects to the fallen heroes.
5 Important Facts About Korea During Their Struggle
An end to government discrimination
Koreans did not hold important positions in the government.
Contested unequal education
There was an imbalance in the quality of education that Korean and Japanese people received.
Complicated administrative processes were questioned
New laws were being passed too quickly for the public to keep up.
Requested tax reduction
Taxes were too high for the Korean people to maintain.
Protected Korean culture and teachings
The Japanese tried to suppress Korean culture and teachings by firing Korean village teachers.
Why Independence Movement Day is Important
It led to Korea’s independence
It started the movements that led to Korea’s independence. It awakened suppressed feelings towards the Japanese military rule.
It created a sense of unity
The Independence Movement publicly showed a united need for freedom. This allowed the Korean people to fight for independence as one.
It honors Korean heroes
Respect is paid to the brave people who fought for Korea’s independence every year. It honors the heroes and inspires the current generation.
Independence Movement Day dates