Samil Independence Movement in Korea 1919-1920

(March First Movement)

[ 1919 - 1920 ]

In 1910 the Japanese annexed Korea against its will, and at the end of World War I the Koreans tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Paris Conference to consider them an oppressed people with a right to self-determination. On March 1, 1919, 33 Korean cultural and religious leaders came together to sign a "Proclomation of Independence," which they read that day before a huge gathering in the Korean capital city of Seoul. The independence movement spread like wildfire to other cities and towns. During the followoing year more than 1,500 demonstrations, which were attended by about 2 million persons, were held throughout the country. Although the demonstrations were peaceful, the Japanese police and military reacted with harsh severity against the anti-Japanese demonstrators; nearly 23,000 were killed or wouded in clashes. Of about 47,000 who were arrested, some 5,000 were sent to prison. After the demonstrations were suppressed, the Japanese government reformed its governance of Korea and gave the Koreans a small measure of self-government. Today March 1 is celebrated in both North and South Korea as a national holiday in honor of the demonstrators' patriotism.

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