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The 2·28 Movement for Democracy

2·28민주운동은 4.19혁명의 출발이었으며
이승만 독재정권의 무능과 부패가 극에 달한 상황에서
대구지역 고등학생들이 중심이 되어 일어난 대한민국 최초의 민주화 운동이었다

The 2·28 Movement for Democracy

The 2·28 democratic student uprising was a democratic movement against the tyranny and the corruption of Sigmund Rhee's Liberal Party when it was at its peak and when the poverty-stricken and civil-rights deprived citizens were crying "we can't live like this anymore! It's time for change!" At the time, the Liberal Party administration amended the constitution in order to obtain a permanent hold on power. Although they knew that the citizens were still angry from the corruption and injustice during the March 15, 1960 election, they still attempted to establish a permanent hold on power.
They performed all kinds of atrocities including giving away Makguli and rubber shoes for votes, transporting mass number of crowds for the majority party's political events and disbanding crowds at the minority party's political events, not to mention blocking the media and the opposing political party. They also tampered with the popular will by pre-votes, alternate votes, and "piano votes" at the election sites.

In the midst of such corruption and conspiracy, on February 28, 1960, at the end of Vice President Jeong's election campaign, Dr. Jang Myeon was scheduled to deliver his election speech on the bank of Suseongcheon in downtown Daegu. The silent consensus that echoed through the nation was that it was time for a change from the evil Liberal administration. Dr. Jo Byeong Ok had become the focus of the national attention as the alternate to the Liberals, but his tragic death turned the nation's hopes to Dr. Jang, the candidate for vice president. Hence, on February 28, it was expected that the nation's eyes would be on Daegu and huge crowds would gather on the banks of Suseongchun despite the watchful eyes of the ruling Liberal Party. The Liberal Party, which foresaw losing the election, became frantic and ordered all public high schools in Daegu to open on a Sunday fearing that even the young high school students would congregate at the polls. The schools forced the students to go to school on a Sunday using excuses such as unexpected exams, rabbit hunting, or going to the movie theatres.

However, the students saw through its shallow schemes. They shook with anger and those who had congregated in the schools did not follow their orders. Instead, they turned into assemblies denouncing the Liberal Party's corruption and injustice, and mobs of students flowed out of schools, passing through Jungangtong, Gyeongbuk state house, Daegu city hall, the Liberal Party's regional offices and its Headquarters in Gyeongbuk Province. Numerous students were arraigned and suffered at the hands of the police. The teachers also had to suffer inquiries by the police.
The administration which had planned a major retribution for this incident softened at the anger of the citizens. The media, which had been keeping low during the time of the dictatorship, spread the news of the 2·28 Student Uprising. Hearing news of the incident, students across the nation began to rise up. It was the students who shook, for the first time, the horrifying silence in which neither the adults nor the minority party were able to break. Since they had known the reasons behind their inaction, they rose up against the regime risking their own lives. For those who had grown up watching and participating in only controlled demonstrations, it was their first voluntary democratic expression and the Daegu residents also gave their full support, such as hiding the students who were running from the police.

The 2·28 Uprising became the spark that began a fire that burned the entire nation and led to further democratic uprisings such as the 3·15 Masan Uprising, 4·19 College Student Demonstration, 4·26 resignation of President Sigmund Rhee, and toppled the despotic administration, finally achieving the nations' first democratic revolution. The 2·28 Student Uprising was the manifestation of the spirit of Daegu residents who had rebelled against the poverty, despotism, injustice and corruption of the time. It was also the event that piloted the Koreanized version of Western democracy imported at the time of independence from Japan. We must record in history and remember the fact that the 4·19 Uprising, which helped establish the first democracy achieved by the people in East Asia, was ignited from the spark that the young students in Daegu began.
The spirit of the uprising must be kept alive as long as Daegu remains. Daegu is also where the movement to repay the national debt, which inculcated the independence spirit, had originated. During the Korean War, Daegu remained the last stronghold in the nation and helped overcome a national crisis, and through the 2·28 Uprising, fulfilled its role as the pioneer that established a national democratic tradition. The recent distortion of Daegu's democratic tradition by the new administration is an unfortunate phenomenon. Through this year's forty-first 2·28 Student Uprising, let us attempt to rediscover the major branch of Daegu spirit that is still alive within us.