Lee Dang Guem and dancer at the 518 Memorial old cemetary

A commemoration of the fallen anti-dictator protesters in Gwangju happens every year on May 18th, the day in 1980 when hundreds died and many many more were wounded. South Korea finally earned a direct vote democracy in 1987. It took many more deaths for this change to take place…notably, 54 Seoul National University students, at separate times, made pro-democracy fliers and threw them off the bell tower at the school’s library. Then they threw themselves off, thus dying for the cause.

Note, on June 4, 1989 students in Beijing attempted to protest their way into a democracy, and lost. The “Tienanmen Square Massacre” resulted in many deaths, many imprisonments, and a squelching of democracy in China.

LESS THAN TWO WEEKS LATER, the George H.W. Bush administration gave China “most Favored Nation” trading status as…what?…a way of saying they can do business with dictators most assuredly pro USA, and NOT WITH democracies under which voters might vote in a non pro-USA government.

Many would argue that 1980 was also the turning point for American democracy, and that by 2000 it was lost forever.

What a shame.

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