Amazing photographs of post-war Korea on the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day
Countries around the world today are marking 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Here in the UK and in many other parts of the world who fought on the Allies’ side it is known as V-J Day to mark victory over Japan – as this was the day Japan announced its surrender. But in Korea, it was even more profound as it marked the end of Japanese colonial rule and 35 years of annexation. It is known as Liberation Day for that reason and also marks the establishment of the South Korean state three years later on August 15, 1948 is the day Syngman Rhee was made first President of South Korea.
Unsurprisingly for anyone who knows even a little about international relations in the region, it has been highly politicised with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s memorial speech being criticised by both SK President Park Geun-hye and Chinese state news agency Xinhua for not going far enough.
However it did include the four phrases considered most important from Japan’s 1995 apology the Murayama Statement referring to the Imperial Japanese “aggression” and “colonial rule,” and expressing “remorse” and an “apology.” As Abe has previously expressed a desire to amend this and two other apology statements, this is clearly an attempt to ease shaky diplomatic relations with both countries while appeasing Japanese conservatives.
President Park has also been using the commemoration for political ends with a speech urging North Korea to stop ‘military provocations’ on the border between the two countries.
According to the New York Times, she said: “North Korea must wake up from its delusional belief that it can maintain its regime through provocations and threats. They lead only to isolation and destruction.”
As is customary, she also expressed her desire for reunification but given that South Korea is currently accusing the North of planting landmines which caused two soldiers to lost limbs while North Korea is threatening to attack South Korean propaganda loudspeakers at the border, it’s not looking likely that will happen any time soon.
But outside of politics, Liberation Day is a time of celebration and remembrance throughout the country. Various events and ceremonies (this year even including a Pride Walk to support LGBT liberation) have been taking place throughout the country.
The National Institute of Korean History has remembered the day by releasing 66 pictures which show life in Korea between Liberation day in 1945 and the official creation of the two separate states exactly three years later. We’ve included some of the highlights here with translated captions but you can see all the photos on Huffington Post Korea (Korean).