National Museum Of Korean Contemporary History

Special Exhibition

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Special Exhibition
70th Anniversary of the Republic of Korea Government


National Museum of Korean Contemporary History 3rd Floor Special Exhibition Hall

Jul. 27th, 2018(Fri) ~ Dec. 2th, 2018(Sun)

  • Price : Free
  • Hours :10:00 – 18:00
    Opening hours will be extended to nine o’clock in the evening on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
    (Last admission is one hour before the closing time.)
  • For additional inquiries call : +82-02-3703-9200

Opening Special Exhibition

As the colonial period finally ended on August 15 1945, stirrings in preparation for a new society were seen throughout the Korean Peninsula. The effort to establish a proper national framework was not confined to independence fighters or political leaders. Journalists, publishers and intellectuals, whose freedom of expression was denied during under the Japanese imperial regime, began to raise their voices over the path in which the country should proceed. Laborers and farmers strove to protect their production sites, which served as their economic foundation amidst the chaos. They struggled to gain their social rights in the face of copious restrictions. Numerous cultural artists and groups also worked tirelessly to comfort the hearts of people who had suffered during the former regime as well as to share in the public enthusiasm over the dawning of a new society.

The three years needed to establish a government formally after Liberation was a time of political chaos. Ideology is neither simply an issue for social leaders alone nor something dichotomously split into left and right political camps. Voices on all sides of the dense ideological spectrum were raised until the social leadership had emerged from the people, and the Korean people had finally become the principal movers of their own society. The presence of such disparate opinions amplified the conflict, but the melee was not just over points of view. Political positions and ideological differences notwithstanding, the contemporary figures who strove to stand on their own to establish the new order were all driven by the same level of resolve and passion. The establishment of the Republic of Korea government in August 1948 was made possible by this collective energy.

The present exhibition covers the period between Liberation from Japanese colonial rule in August 1945 to the establishment of the government in August 1948, focusing on the new social vision for which diverse sectors of Korean society yearned as well as on the determination and exertion put forth realize that vision. Disparities existed in the degree of individual resolve and effort, but visitors are encouraged to recall the kind of nation the people back then were dreaming of, while embracing the differences among them. Let us look back upon the starting point of the government of the Republic of Korea seventy years ago as well as upon the aspirations and dreams of those who were there. Now in 2018, the world is experiencing a historical turning point, and we should take time to reflect upon ourselves yet again.

The Tumultuous Korean Peninsula
Liberation was an event that removed all at once a great force that had suppressed Koreans’ political aspirations. The long-repressed political energy burst out suddenly one day, and the Korean Peninsula, which had become a “liberated space” was soon transformed into a tumultuous space. Koreans’ advancement in society and participation in politics were unprecedentedly vigorous. Many people who wished to create a new country and express their individual political ideologies and values would congregate on the streets.
The country had regained its sovereignty, but numerous tasks remained to be done. The infrastructure built during the Japanese colonial period was designed primarily to ensure the colonial government ran smoothly. Koreans, therefore had to readjust or restore many things for them to accommodate Korean needs.
Physical facilities were not the only things that needed straightening out. Korean’s national identity had suffered damage during the colonial period and had to be recovered without fail. Original Korean names had to be restored in place of the Japanese-style surnames and given names Koreans had been forced to use. Instruction in spoken and written Korean was needed, and the Japanese had prohibited Koreans from using their own language, and classes in Korean history had to be established.
Exhausted Lives and Dreams
Korea’s national sovereignty had been recovered, but life was still hard. With the USAMGIK’s inept administration, social unrest remained high, and economic conditions worsened. Amid the countless difficulties, Koreans continued to return home from overseas, and hope-filled people sought to forge the way forward for their country. Others who were aware of their low positions in the social order strove to improve their lives. Thus new seeds of hope were planted amid the volatile circumstances of the time.
Promulgation of Public Opinion
People who had been suppressed during the Japanese colonial period began to have their voices heard through various means after Liberation. Individuals started to express their ideas on the new direction in which the fate of the Korean people and their nation is to head. Numerous media were utilized to get their message out.
The print media (newspapers, magazines, and books) served as the leading means for promulgating public sentiments. Numerous literary works in diverse genre were filled with the contemporary views of society. Popular slang on everyone’s lips also reflected the circumstances of the day. Artists sought to capture the popular mood by producing works that expressed the concerns of the times and the direction in which the country should proceed.
After the Government’s Official Establishment
The post-Liberation period, from August 15, 1945 to August 15, 1948, was filled with emotion as the Korean nation was restored. The efforts and struggles of countless people over a long period resulted in the establishment of the government of the Republic of Korea. As the Constitution of 1948 reads that this country is a democratic and independent republic with great spirits of the March 1st movement.