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Gwangju uprising contributed to S. Korea's democratization: poll

All Headlines 11:48 May 19, 2012

GWANGJU, May 19 (Yonhap) -- The 1980 Gwangju uprising played a significant role in helping move forward the democratization process in South Korea, a poll conducted by a memorial foundation showed Saturday.

The May 18 Memorial Foundation said the nationwide survey of 725 people showed 65.8 percent of the respondents saying the popular revolts and the subsequent bloody military crackdown in and around the city of Gwangju helped the country's democracy movement. Only 12.6 percent said it played no positive role.

The foundation, set up to help victims and keep alive the spirit of what is formally called the Gwangju Democratization Movement, said the latest findings showed positive views going up by 4.7 percentage points compared to the year before. It said negative views edged up 2.5 percentage points.

The poll showed women and people in their 30s-40s generally giving recognition for the uprising's historic role in changing the country from an authoritarian state to a full-fledged democracy.

It added 62.3 percent of the respondents said the uprising enhanced the country's human rights, up a sharp 8.4 percentage points from a year earlier.

The uprising refers to a popular resistance movement that took place in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, from May 18 through May 27. During this period, citizens took control of the city and demanded democracy as the military led by Gen. Chun Doo-hwan moved to take power after the political vacuum left by the assassination of President Park Chung-hee in the previous year.

The foundation's latest poll, meanwhile, showed that 53.5 percent of the respondents believed the details of the tragedy have not been fully revealed, with only 14.3 percent saying the official probe was adequate.

May 18 is a day of commemoration in South Korea with Seoul having passed a law to compensate victims and to restore honor to those who fought in the uprising.


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