By Song Baleun and Yoon Sojung
President Moon Jae-in on May 18 emphasized the spirit of the May 18 Democratization Movement at a ceremony to mark the historical event's 40th anniversary.
"The spirit of May belongs not to somebody but to all of us," he told a ceremony for the occasion at May 18 Democracy Square next to the former building of the Jeollanam-do Provincial Government in Gwangju under the theme "Although time flows, nature will know."
The president said the ceremony was hosted for the first time at the square next to the old building of the Jeollanam-do Provincial Government, not the May 18th National Cemetery in Seoul, "in the hope that our citizens will commemorate May 18 together and revive May 18 in their daily lives."
“The spirit of May has taken form from the ordinary hopes of ordinary people responding to the pain of others," he said.
"The love of family and concern for neighbors have combined to become the spirit of justice."
The president added, "Their spirit is embedded in the minds of each and every one of our people even now. That is what has empowered Korea to become a global model for overcoming the COVID-19 outbreak."
"By answering the call of history, the spirit of May remains still now a living spirit of noble sacrifice," he said. "Telling the truth about Gwangju has become a democratization movement, and May 18 has joined the great history of democracy in the Republic of Korea."
The chief executive also said his administration is fully committed to finding the truth behind the movement, saying, "The government will do all it can to investigate the truth of May 18."
"Through Gwangju, we learned the fact that democracy is about further uniting each other’s hearts, sharing more and communicating more deeply."
He added, "Those experiences carved in our hearts will always be the biggest strength even in the face of any hardship."