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Moon confers posthumous state medal on iconic labor activist

All News 13:31 November 12, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Thursday conferred a posthumous state medal on Chun Tae-il, one of the most important figures in South Korea's labor history, in recognition of his service to the country.

Moon awarded the Mugunghwa Medal of the Order of Civil Merit to Chun during a ceremony at Cheong Wa Dae attended by his family members and friends.

President Moon Jae-in (C) poses with family members of the late labor activist Chun Tae-il after posthumously conferring on him the Mugunghwa Medal of the Order of Civil Merit during a ceremony at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Nov. 12, 2020. Flanking Moon from left to right are Chun's younger sister, Tae-ri, younger brother, Tae-sam, and younger sister, Soon-ok. (Yonhap)

It came on the eve of the country's annual commemoration of Chun's tragic death five decades earlier. Chun, who was a 22-year-old tailor at that time, burned himself to death on Nov. 13, 1970, while fighting for better working conditions at his textile company.

The Mugunghwa Medal is the highest ranking of five medals that make up the Order of Civil Merit, and Chun is the first labor activist to receive it, according to the presidential office.

"We prepared the ceremony on the occasion of the 50th death anniversary of Chun Tae-il, a patriotic martyr, to remember his service to the country through his work to improve laborers' rights, and to demonstrate the administration's commitment to achieving a society that respects labor," Cheong Wa Dae said.

Moon expressed his deep gratitude to Chun's family, including his late mother, who he said overcame the grief of losing a loved one and dedicated their lives to preserving Chun's will to defend laborers' rights, according to the presidential office.

He also voiced hope that Chun's friends, who recommended him for the medal, will be encouraged by the conferment.

On Friday, Chun's family and friends plan to dedicate the medal to the late activist at his grave and then put it on display at the Chun Tae-il Memorial Hall in central Seoul.

hague@yna.co.kr
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