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Koreans Grieve for Their Hero
Death of Kim Dae-jung shocks the nation
OhmyNews (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2009-08-20 12:43 (KST)   
This is a partial translation of various OhmyNews articles written in Korean.  <Editor's Note>

Korean Government Announces Six-Day Long State Funeral

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The Korean government has decided that former President Kim Dae-jung's funeral will be organized as a six-day long state funeral and the official funeral ceremony will take place at 2p.m. on August 23, in the public plaza of the Legislative Assembly.

The government announced that the decision for a six-day funeral came about in light of the current economic difficulties of the country. The government first recommended a national funeral but it changed to an official state funeral in response to repeated calls by the Democratic Party and the bereaved family, for a state funeral given the former President's achievements in inter-Korean relations and in democratization.

This will be the first instance of an official state funeral for a former President since the establishment of the Republic of Korea and will be the first in 30 years since the assassination of former President Park Chung-hee during his term in office.

An official state funeral would entail that the state pays for all costs and a state holiday on the day of the funeral ceremony however in this case, the ceremony will take place on Sunday, August 23.

It is notable that when the government announced on August 18, on the day of former President Kim's death, that it has decided to organize a national funeral rather than a state funeral, netizens petitioned the government en mass for an official state funeral.

Citizens pay their respects in front of the remembrance center built in Seoul Plaza near City Hall on August 19.

Citizens gather in front of the remembrance center built in City Hall public square on August 19.

Koreans Organize to Remember former President

A citizen memorial committee conducts a press conference to express their sadness on behalf of the nation and state that they will continue former President's legacy.

A citizen memorial committee conducts a press conference to express their sadness on behalf of the nation and to remember and continue former President's legacy.

A citizen memorial committee has been organized for any citizen who wants to participate in memorial activities of former President Kim Dae-jung.

The committee has decided to organize a daily video presentation of the deceased President's legacy near City Hall Square and to organize various memorial activities such as a "signature campaign for North-South reconciliation". The committee also plans to organize a memorial festival--"Day of Citizen Remembrance"--that large numbers of citizens can participate in.

A Nation Grieves

A visitor cries as she leaves the memorial center of the deceased former President Kim Dae-jung

A visitor cries as she leaves the memorial center of the deceased former President Kim Dae-jung

Many citizens gathered at the memorial centers built for the former President Kim Dae-jung and spoke about his legacy.

Yoon-hee Choi (31) said, "I felt that I had to at least come by and place a flower for him. He sacrificed his life for our country's democracy and endured so many hardships...I hope he will find peace in heaven."

Sung-kyu Kim (37) said, "It is painful to lose such a leader but I feel thankful that we had such a fine president who left behind a substantial legacy: commitment to normalization between North and South Korea; the 6.15 Statement; the Sunshine Policy and the Nobel Peace Prize."

People gathered on the grass lawns of City Hall Square following their visits to the memorial centers and shared Korean wine and stories.

Foreigners also visited the memorial centers and remembered the former President as a leader who fought dictatorship, reconciled relations between North and South and received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Gael, a french national (37) said, "Two months ago I went to the Berlin Wall and saw a photo of former President Kim Dae-jung shaking hands with Kim Jeong-il. We Europeans are very interested in issues of national division. We know that President Kim Dae-jung won the Nobel Prize. No French individual has won the Nobel Peace Prize. A friend told me that the President Kim lost his health due to torture he suffered as he fought against dictatorship. Coming to the memorial center today, I realize that many Koreans loved him."

Many citizens could not control their tears. Sun-yeo Choi came to the square with her son and she cried throughout her interview.

"I brought my son so that he might remember this moment in history. Our children should know that such a tragedy happened to our country. It is tragic that he passed away when the whole country is in turmoil and such terrible deaths continue to afflict us. I'm not ready to let him go and I can't stop crying."

Her young son told her to stop crying and that it was alright, but then he started to follow her crying.

August 19, on the second day of mourning former President Kim Dae-jung at the memorial center in Seoul Plaza near City Hall. Various Democratic Party members greet mourners.


August 19, on the second day of mourning former President Kim Dae-jung, mourners line up to wait their turn at the memorial center in Seoul Plaza near City Hall.

Citizens who came to pay their respects also left messages and wishes at the memorial center. From primary school students to senior citizens, their notes of remembrance were varied and different.

I will never forget your wish that justice will rise-up like the river, and hope will awaken like a rainbow. -- Choi Bong-gyu

I respect you for spending your whole life for our country's democracy. -- Lim Ji-gye

Conscience that acts, now we will continue your ideals. Please be in peace in heaven. -- Kim Gwang-eun

You have suffered greatly. Please rest in peace. We love and respect you. -- Moon Gyung-choon

We will surely achieve reunification. Please rest in peace. -- Jeong-heum's Mom

We have lost a great leader. I pray for you. -- Jung Seok-ho

Thank you for leaving us a good world. Please rest in peace in a good place. -- Hong Hyuk-gi

Grandfather President, I love you. -- Min Young

Please don't be in pain in heaven and rest in peace without worry. -- Nam Jung-in.

August 19, on the second day of mourning former President Kim Dae-jung, mourners await their turn at the memorial center in Seoul Plaza near City Hall.


On morning of August 19, many citizens line up at the memorial center in Seoul Plaza near City Hall.


On morning of August 19, while many citizens line up at the memorial center in Seoul Plaza, some citizens have set-up their own memorial centers and receive mourners.
©2009 OhmyNews
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