▲ Roh Hoe-chan speaking in the 1987 June Democratic Movement Anniversary Talk Concert. Photographed by Lee Arim.
On June 1, a talk concert celebrating the thirty-year anniversary of 1987 June Democracy Movement was held in the College of Liberal Arts of Korea University (KU). The KU Student Association (KUSA) and the KU Democracy Association, an alumni group of 1987 protestors, planned the event. Three progressive politicians—Roh Hoe-chan (’79, Political Science and International Relations) of Justice Party, Lee Ihn Young (’84, Korean Language and Literature), and Baek Hye Ryeon (’87, Sociology) of Democracy Party—were invited to share their experience in 1987 and communicate with the KU students.
In the first half of the talk concert, the panels answered the question, “What does the June Struggle of 1987 mean to you?” and the significance of 1987 in Korean history. Roh Hoe-chan, the representative of the Justice Party, revealed, “I was not able to vote for presidential election until I was thirty years old. 1987 was the turning point of my life and the starting point of democracy in Korea.”
A KU Student Ahn Seong Joon (’14, PSIR) asked, “My father used to protest in 1987, but told me to stay away from the square in last year’s protest. How do you, as progressive politicians, keep your political youth?” In response, Baek Hye Ryeon, the spokesman of the Democratic Party, said “As a former prosecutor, I was under the pressure to support the conservatives.” Yet, as she continuously shared opinions with her husband, she was able to keep a balanced view on society. “One’s political stance depends on the type of person he or she meets, or the kind of life he or she lives,” said Baek.
The latter half of the talk concert was focused on the political participation of the youths and the improvement of conditions for the younger generation. Lee Ihn Young, a member of the Democracy Party, claimed the importance of voting for the youths themselves, while Kim Dong Hyun (’15, Korean Language education), the head of the College of Education, spoke on the need for the older generation to make policies and institutions for youths.
Heated debate continued between panels and participants, with Kim Young Gon, the part-time instructor who has been protesting for more than 10 years, made a remark to the current politicians. However, many questions posed by the participants remained unanswered due to time constraints, which leaves some regrets.