March First Popular Uprising

102 years have passed since the March First Popular Uprising of the Korean people against the Japanese military occupation of Korea.

Early in the 20th century, the Japanese imperialists occupied Korea by force of arms and set up murderous and repressive machinery on a large scale in all parts of Korea. They arrested, imprisoned and killed innocent Koreans indiscriminately, turning Korea into a big jail and a living hell.

The pent-up grudge and indignation of the Korean people exploded as a nationwide anti-Japanese resistance on March 1, 1919.

At noon that day when a bell rang, thousands of youth and students and other people from all walks of life gathered in the playground of Sungdok Girls’ School in Pyongyang. A student representative took the platform to read a “Declaration of Independence” and solemnly proclaimed Korea to be an independent state. The crowds held a demonstration, shouting such slogans as “The Japanese and Japanese troops, get out of Korea!” and “Long live the independence of Korea!”.

Timed to coincide with the demonstration in Pyongyang, the flames of the uprising flared up in North and South Phyongan, South Hamgyong and other provinces, cities and counties. It spread over to 13 provinces, turning the whole of Korea into a theatre of struggle against the Japanese imperialists’ colonial rule.

The uprising reached its climax early in April, and more than two million Koreans joined the struggle by the end of May.

Overseas Koreans in Shanghai and northeastern part of China, the Maritime Territory of Russia, Hawaii and other regions around the world launched similar demonstrations, which lingered on for nearly one year.

Panic-stricken by the mounting anti-Japanese sentiments among the Korean people, the Japanese imperialists repressed the uprising cold-bloodedly by committing their aggressor divisions, gendarmerie and police stationed in Korea.

The March First Popular Uprising ended in failure due to the brutal crackdown of the Japanese imperialists. But, it left an indelible mark in the history of the anti-Japanese national struggle of the Korean people, as it dealt a crushing blow to the colonial rule of the Japanese imperialists and fully demonstrated their spirit of independence, patriotism and indomitable will to fight against the domination and repressive rules of outside forces at the cost of their lives.

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