Korean Independence Day.

Today we wish all our Columban Sisters who are Korean and those who worked in Korea  as well as the people of Korea, every blessing on this your Independence day.  May your dreams for unification come true as you struggle to bring down barriers and make bridges towards unity.

On August 15th 1948 the Republic of Korea was established, with Syngman Rhee as the first president; on September 9th 1948, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established under Kim Il-sung.

This day is a holiday that marks the liberation of Korea from 35 years of Japanese imperial rule in 1945 after the end of the Second World War On this day Japan’s surrender ended World War II and restored freedom to the people of the Korean Peninsula. August 15th remains the only national holiday celebrated in both North and South Korea. 

The Korean flag, depicted in today’s Doodle, was chosen by Google to commemorate Korean Independence Day.  It depicts a distinctive design inspired by Yin and Yang, which will be flying all over South Korea today as well as in private homes and hearts.

Sometimes referred to by the name Taegukgi, the flag is flying to celebrate Korea’s National Day of Liberation, also known as 광복절 or Gwangbokjeol, a commemoration of Korea’s independence from Japanese rule.

Gwangbokjeol, literally means ‘Restoration of Light’ day. The ”Gwangbokjeol Song” (광복절 노래) is played each year at a solemn flag-raising ceremony attended by President of South Korea. Gwangbokjeol / ‘Restoration of Light Day,’ is a fitting name for a holiday when proud Korean citizens reflect on their past and look ahead to a bright future.

The day is marked by different activities and events throughout the day, including an official ceremony with the president in attendance that takes place at the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan or at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

In 1941, Yun Dong-ju, a young poet, aged 23, graduated from Yonhi College, which later became Yonsei University, went to Japan and entered the English literature department of Rikkyo University in Tokyo.  On July 14, 1943, he was arrested as a supporter of communism by the Japanese police and the following year, the Kyoto regional court sentenced him to two years of prison on the charge of having participated in the Korean independence movement. He was imprisoned in Fukuoka, where he died in February 1945.

“Foreword” by Yun Dong-ju.

Wishing not to have
so much as a speck of shame

toward heaven until the day I die,
I suffered, even when the wind stirred the leaves.

With my heart singing to the stars,
I shall love all things that are dying.

And I must walk the road
that has been given to me.

Tonight, again, the stars are
brushed by the wind.

Translated by Kyungnyun K. Richards & Steffen F. Richards  

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