What does March 1 mean to Koreans?

Wondering what’s the big hoo-ha about Japanese netizens reacting to SNSD’s Sunny’s instagram post? 

She basically said “역사를 잊은 민족에게 미래는 없다” which means

“A nation who forgets history has no future”. 

To be honest, she didn’t really directly criticize Japan or say “let’s hate Japan” per se, so we really think the netizens were a little too harsh on the hate. But then and again, the Korea-Japan relationship has always been touchy, so it’s possible even indirect comments can be construed as critical.

The Samil Movement (삼일절) is observed every March 1 in Korea. 

Many of the older generation Koreans would have experienced and deeply feel for this day compared to the younger Koreans. When I asked some of my Korean friends what is the March 1 holiday about, quite a few would say, I don’t know, it’s a red day (빩간날) so we can rest?

It actually dates back to year 1919 March 1st, where this day commemorates one of the first few movements for Korean independence from the Japanese colonial rule where a declaration for freedom was read and demonstrations (much ending in violence and blood) were held.

So eventually the March 1 was set to be a public holiday in Korea for Koreans to reflect on the event and to remember the importance of patriotism and the sacrifices made by their forefathers for independence.

korean flag

image credit: higoodday.com

In Korea, there are four major national holidays that commemorate Nation Building.

3 March : 3.1절 (March 1 Day)

17 July : 제헌절 (Constitution Day) – The day that the Korean Constitution was proclaimed in 1948. The date was deliberately chosen to match the founding date of 17 July of the Joseon Dynasty. (source: Wikipedia)

15 August : 광복절 (Liberation Day) – Japanese surrender to Allied forces on 1 August 1945

3 October : 개천절 (National Foundation Day) – Creation of state of Go-Choseon (Modern day Korea) by Danggun Wanggeom in 2333 B.C