The article below was from Naeil.com, one of the daily newspapers here in Korea. I was interviewed last year May 2007. Ms. Oh Miok, was a 2006 volunteer sent by The May 18 Memorial Foundation to my former organization (CO Multiversity/Philcos) in the Philippines. She lived in an urban poor community in Manila where she learned Community Organizing to help empower the community.
This article was showed to me a year after by another interviewer for our magazine joo muk bap on our 2008 may issue (the write up is now being translated in English). Researching about me prior the interview my interviewer found this article and gave to me the online printout.
I asked our 2007 volunteer Yoan Kim who is an English education major. Yoan was sent to Malaysia and work with Empower who deals primarily with youth and women. Thanks to Mi Ok and Yoan for their help.
The Korean version is posted with this titled link:
“5·18 잊고 사는 광주가 슬프다”
5월 광주는 아시아 활동가에게 ‘승리의 신념’ 전해…소중한 역사 계승해야
Interview and written by
Kook Jin Bang
May of Gwangju brings belief in victory to Asian activists... precious history should be succeeded.
"I am so sad when I hear that Gwangju citizens have forgotten the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising (518). The May 18 is precious and important history that Koreans should treasure." This is what Mr. Pete Rahon feels about Gwangju and Gwangju citizens. He had been working with poor people for the last 10 years in the Philippine. He came first to Gwangju in 2005 as an intern for The May 18 Memorial Foundation. For 1o months he learned about the May 18 and worked providing staff support for the international cooperation team. He believes that the spirit and experience of Gwangju uprising is the same longing of Filipinos with the Philippine democracy movement.
♦ The May 18 needs to be national, not only Gwangju's own
16th May was such a busy day for him presiding a session and guiding participants for the 2007 Gwangju Peace Forum.
"History education to youth is essential for the succession of the spirit of May" he said.
That same day an opinion research about the May 18 was reported. According to the research, 2 out of 10 respondents said the May 18 was a riot or disturbance: 16.5 % of respondents said the May 18 had no influence to democratization of Korea: 68% didn't know that the 18th May is a national holiday. This shows that there is limitation of projects done by May 18 - related organizations. In response to this limitation, "It shouldn't be Gwangju's own history." he said and added "Memorial events should be prepared in other regions." It is such a precious advice from a foreigner to Gwangju citizens.
♦ " I can feel the spirit and victory of people power from the May 18"
It was not until 1990, when the trial of 2 former presidents, that he got to know about the May 18. It was a vivid memory for him to see two former Korean presidents stood at the bar; it was such an inspiring moment for him. He believes that soon Philippine democracy movement will gain victory.
"It was such a shock to see the pictures of victims brutally beaten and shot by the army. I pay homage to the Gwangju citizenas fighting for democracy."
He described Gwangju uprising as 'People Power'. He was touched of the spontaneous participation of Gwangju citizens in 1980 and it reminds him how powerful 'People Power' is. His feeling for the victory of 518 is a source of hope for him.
♦ What do Asian civil society activists think about the May 18?
He said the May 18 is an awe-inspiring experience to the Asian civil activists. He plans to introduce the May 18 to the Philippines. He is positive that the Philippines will also achieve the same victory oft he May 18. A real democratic government that leads to economic development.
"Gwangju gives confidence to Asian civil society which expect more help and inspiration from the Gwangju experience" he said.
It is a precious advice from a foreigner which makes us shameful.