We will begin again unveiling the history of truth by taking care of each and every woman who was trampled on.
Today marks the 38th anniversary of the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement. It has been a long time—longer than one generation. It was a time of suffering and bloodshed in the effort to achieve democratization. I join you today in honoring with a solemn heart the souls of the fallen citizens of Gwangju. I think back to the tears of countless citizens who made selfless sacrifices to safeguard the value of democracy.
In the afternoon on that day, a high school girl heading home from school was forcibly loaded onto a military truck. An office worker returning home after a sunrise service at church was dragged away by armed soldiers. The ordinary daughters and sisters of Gwangju were trampled on. The lives of their families fell apart as well.
I am truly ashamed of the state violence of the past that ravaged the lives of individuals, especially women so nonchalantly.
What makes us all the more embarrassed today is the fact that even after 38 years have passed we have not been able to get the full picture of the depth of wounds citizens of Gwangju suffered and to soothe their wounds. We are in dire need of a commitment to disclose the history and truth in full.
A thoroughgoing investigation will be conducted to get to the bottom of the sexual violence without fail. The Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the National Human Rights Commission will set up a joint investigation team, and our best efforts will be exerted to restore the human dignity of each and every victim.
In Gwangju in May back then, the most humane scenes unfolded in the most despairing moments. Even though the city was cut off from the outside world, not a single case of pillage took place. Citizens shared food with each other and donated blood. They took care of the wounded in the face of shooting. They taught us a lesson in history that their helping and encouraging each other as well as sharing together was the way to fight and win against unjust state violence.
It was the Democratization Movement in May in Gwangju that helped ordinary people like us keep justice in our mind all the time. We were able to have courage believing that the spirit of the Movement was with us. The candlelight revolution was the revival of the spirit of the Gwangju in May and the force that enabled the Moon Jae-in Administration to be launched.
We will begin again unveiling the truth of history by taking care of each and every woman who was trampled on. I will look back to see just how neglectful we have been in healing the life of each individual, which is as precious as the value of democracy. I will not forget that the reason for the country’s existence is to respect the life of each and every citizen, including those associated with the name of Gwangju.
At the heart of the spirit of Gwangju lies the citizens of Gwangju who took care of and shared with each other. That spirit needs to grow so that democracy spreads into every corner of life. I ask the people to join in the efforts to make human rights, peace, dignity and the right of an individual to live life to the fullest common values.
The presence of Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon at the ceremony today was very significant. It was meaningful commemorative remarks. I also sang “March for the Beloved" together from the bottom of my heart.