The Kwangju Uprising of 1980, and the U.S. response, was a turning point in South Korean history as well as for the Cold War in Asia. It’s being commemorated in Korea today. To mark the date, please read Hankyoreh‘s moving account of its impact on two twin brothers – only one of whom is alive today to remember:
Former civil engineer Lee Gang-jun, 51, lost his twin in May 1980. His brother, older by five minutes, was like his other half. Gang-su had passed his high school equivalency test and was getting ready for his college entrance exam when he joined the demonstrations in Gwangju on the 18th. Gang-jun himself joined on the 22nd, and ended up meeting his brother while watching over the armory at the old South Jeolla Provincial Office, where the citizens’ army leadership had been staying.
Like many Korean siblings, the Lee brothers share one of the same given names.
“My brother was bringing oxygen cylinders over to the clinic from Gwangju Military Hospital,” Gang-jun said. On the evening of May 26, the day before the New Military Group launched its bloody crackdown, the twins said goodbye, each pleading with each other to “be careful.” It was the last time they ever saw each other.