March 1st Independence Movement Day

independence day

Today is Independence Movement Day. It commemorates the declaration of independence from Japanese colonial rule that took place on March 1st 1919. A ceremony is held on this day every year at Tapgol Park in Seoul where the declaration took place and many members of the resistance movement were shot and killed by Japanese police.

Read about more Korean national holidays here. There’s also a monument near Namsan Park that was completed in 1999 to commemorate that day.

According to the information board at the site, the monument has a lot of symbolism: it is 19.19 metres high which represents the year the declaration took place- 1919. The three parts of the column represent earth, sky, and human, and also represent the three religions – Cheondoist, Christian, and Buddhist – that joined together for the peaceful protest.

On the top of the column is a ball which at first glance might look like a football, but in fact represents sam taeguk (taeguk refers to the principles of yin and yang – heaven and earth – in East Asian Taoist. BTW this two coloured symbol is also found on the Korean flag and the flag is called taegukgi. The symbol of Sam taeguk has yellow added to represent humanity.) Then the structure on top of that pointing in all four directions – north, south, east, west – represents the ‘great leap forward of the Korean people to the universe’.


taeguk                       Korean flag taegukgi             Sam taeguk

The script of the Declaration of Independence appears under the monument in Korean and English. And behind the monument there’s a wall relief that depicts scenes from that day.

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