Citizens rally every March 1st

The first half of the 20th century was indeed one of the darkest and toughest time for the Korean peninsula. They suffered terribly under the colonial rule of Japan as they exploited Korea’s natural resources, the press, and the labor force. They ruled Korea with intolerable aggression and brutality.

On March 1st 1919, the Koreans who were tired of the oppressive dictatorship erupted into a wide-scale protest against the Japanese forces. On that day, 33 Korean leaders signed the Declaration for Korean Independence and proclaimed it publicly at Pagoda Park in Seoul. An estimated two million people took to the streets and government buildings, shouting and marching “Mansei!” meaning “Long live Korea.” All the 33 leaders were then arrested. This became known as the March First Movement.

During the movement, thousands of Koreans were wounded or killed by the Japanese police and soldiers, many of them were also imprisoned without trial and tortured in Seodaemun Prison. There are stories about people being shot in the streets and even burned alive. The Seodaemun Prison was where many of the protestors were taken. It still stands today as a dark monument to those who suffered in those trying days

The March First Movement did not immediately free the Koreans from Japanese colonization. However, after this took place, the Japanese authorities loosened their tight grip and allowed Koreans to write and distribute Korean literature and to gather and meet.


The March First Independence Movement definitely lives on in the hearts and minds of the Korean people. It was the first people’s movement in Korean history that combated any form of discrimination, prejudice and violence. Every year, many Koreans commemorate this important event by flying the Korean flag and reading the Independence of Declaration together. March 1st is also designated as a national holiday in both North and South Korea in order to remember the brave and persistent people who have risked their lives to fight for independence. MANSEI!

Photo by: KOREA.NET