One of the biggest and most important holidays of South Korea is just around the corner. This year is the centennial of Korea’s March 1st movement. If you’ve been following our brand for a while, you might be familiar with this holiday. But let's bring a bit more clarity on what this day means and why it is so important.
The holiday March 1st (pronounced ‘samiljeol’ 삼일절 in Korean) is known as Korean Independence Movement Day. To elaborate on its origin, Korea had officially fallen under Japan’s ruling in August 1910 after years of political influence and pressure from the Japanese Empire. After nearly ten years of enduring injustice and oppression, activists decided to initiate a movement to regain their nation’s independence. A mix of 33 cultural and religious leaders gathered and organized a peaceful and unarmed demonstration where citizens gathered and declared “manse" 만세 (meaning “long live Korea” or “10,000 years”) while waving the Korean flag. Despite the demonstrators being non-aggressive nor belligerent, the Japanese government suppressed the movement and dismissed it as a violent public disorder incident. Although the March 1st movement alone did not result in the freedom of Korea, it set a series of 1,500 demonstrations involving roughly 2,000,000 Koreans that year. About 7,000 people were killed, 16,000 wounded, and hundreds of buildings destroyed by the Japanese police. Korea did not gain liberation until August 15, 1945 when the Empire of Japan finally surrendered. March 1st was stated as a national holiday 4 years later in 1949.
Today, Samiljeol is celebrated by waving the Korean flag and sometimes reenacting parts of the March 1st movement. In remembrance of 100 years since the movement, we released a limited edition piece this year (you can check it out here).