1919 in Korea: National Resistance and Contending Legacies

Gi Wook Shin, Rennie Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


This excerpt, written in 1920 by a then seventeen-year-old girl, Yu Kwansun, while imprisoned at Seodaemun Prison, is a powerful expression of Korean national resistance against Japanese colonialism. As a student at Ehwa Haktang in Seoul, Korea, she joined other protesters on March 1, 1919, shouting Mansei! (Long live Korean independence!), which became the first nationwide protest movement against Japanese rule. After being convicted of sedition, Yu was sent to Seodaemun Prison in Seoul, where she demanded the release of other prisoners and continued to express her support for Korean independence, even organizing a large-scale protest on the first anniversary of the movement. She was transferred to an underground cell, where she was repeatedly beaten and tortured for speaking out. She reportedly wrote the excerpt above before dying of her injuries on September 28, 1920, at the age of seventeen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-408
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Asian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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