The year was 1919; the day March 1st. 100 years later and the memory remains alive within the hearts of her people. Korea was under colonial control as the Japanese empire swept through the country. With a burning desire for freedom and a passion that burned with the embers of strength, pride, and heroism, March 1st was the day they said enough. Enough to remaining silent; enough to the pain and suffering inflicted; enough to it all. They were proud, they were a people, and they would be heard.
From the conflict a leader was born. Ryu Gwan-Sun. She was young; she was too young, but she was brave. She was 16, a student, a daughter, a sister, and a grandchild. But above all, she was a Korean. When marches took place around the country on March 1st, she was attending school in Seoul on a scholarship. Although young, the importance of the voice behind the protests were not lost on her but rather served as the flame that lit her passion on fire. From that moment on she dedicated her life to fighting for the independence of her great country and keenly understood that regardless of what might come, she had to give all she could, so one day the Korean people who celebrate in the joy of freedom from oppression.
In order to combat and control the growing resistance of their occupation, the colonial government of Japan began placing arrests and taking lives by the hundreds. Among them, as still a young 16-year-old child, Gwan-Sun was arrested and imprisoned for her defiance to the Japanese regime. They sough to break her, to destroy the fire and spirit within her, to quiet those to looked to her as leader and symbol for their people; they wanted her to suffer in anguish and pain for the audacity of standing strong against their cruelty. But they could not break her; they could not crush her spirit; they could not penetrate within her soul and remove the love, pride, and passion she held for her beloved country. They couldn’t touch her. In anger they beat her, tortured her, and pointed to her treatment as a message and warming for all those who dare defy them. In anger they grew in hatred towards the young girl who utterly refused to be broken. She defied them and for that, they took her life.
”Japan will fall...even if my fingernails are torn out, my nose and ears are ripped apart, and my legs and arms are crushed, this physical pain does not compare to the pain of losing my nation…my only remorse is not being able to do more than dedicating my life to my country.