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Nation to mark subdued Independence Movement anniversary amid pandemic

All News 08:00 March 01, 2021

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- South Koreans are set to mark the 102nd anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement with smaller, subdued commemorations on Monday as the nation is battling the coronavirus pandemic.

The national holiday is usually observed with large ceremonies, processions and performances remembering the months of popular uprisings against Japan's colonial rule (1910-45), which started in Seoul on March 1, 1919.

About 2 million people participated in the protests across the county and more than 7,500 were killed, according to historians.

Under tight COVID-19 restrictions, however, most of such events have been canceled, scaled down or shifted online this year again, as they were last year.

Seodaemun Prison History Hall, a former colonial prison in central Seoul, called off its annual Independence Movement Day program, which included plays, marches, hands-on activities and prison tours and drew about 30,000 visitors in previous years.

The museum will allow only 150 visitors per hour to tour the prison complex, where many independence fighters including leaders of the March 1 movement were detained, tortured and killed.

This March 1, 2020, photo shows Seodaemun Prison History Hall in central Seoul closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)

The city government of Seoul canceled its official bell-ringing ceremony and curtailed other events.

The district office of Jongno, where the March 1 march started, also suspended its tours of main venues of the protests in the city center for the second consecutive year.

The state-run Independence Hall of Korea has organized a campaign encouraging citizens to post on social media photos of themselves or others raising hands, holding up the national flag and shouting "Hurray! Korea Independence," the slogan of the March 1 resistance movement.

One of them is Bae Moon-hee, 42-year-old mother, who posted a picture of her eight-year-old daughter.

This photo captured from a social media site shows Bae Moon-hee's daughter shouting "Hurray! Korea Independence" in commemoration of the March 1 Independence Movement Day. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

"I took part in this online campaign as opportunities to participate in in-person events are limited. It was a meaningful time as we tried to sense the longing for independence of that day while we shouted 'Hurray!'" she said.

Civic groups such as Young Korean Academy are also organizing virtual events to honor the independence movement.

The group founded by Ahn Chang-ho, a independence movement leader, will hold a March 1 ceremony with its members and citizens using the video app Zoom.

Kookhakwon, an nongovernmental organization promoting Korean traditional culture, will hold an event on YouTube, which will include the reciting of the March 1 Declaration of Independence and a independence movement-themed flash mob.

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