The 6 Day Struggle at the Myeongdong Cathedral

명성, 그 6일의 기록

Lkff2018 Doc Fortnight The Six Day Fight In Myeong Dong Cathedral
Film info

Director: Kim Dong-won
Film genre: Documentary
74 mins, 1997
Distributed by Cinema Dal

From the evening of the 10th to the afternoon of 15th of June 1987, hundreds of student protesters and ordinary citizens found themselves having to take refuge from riot police and staging a sit-in protest at the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul. Located in the main shopping district in the centre of the city, the Myeongdong Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Seoul and a notable symbol of Roman Catholicism in Korea. That evening marked the beginning of the June Democracy Movement, which took place over the following 19 days, across the country. In the preceding months, a number of incidents began to build animosity between the Korean people and the government, notably the case of the student protester Park Jong-chul’s torture and subsequent death. However, it was President Chun Doo-hwan’s announcement of Roh Tae-woo as the next presidential candidate, largely perceived as handing Roh the presidency and obstructing the path to democracy, that finally triggered large-scale protests. The Myeongdong Cathedral sit-in protest ended on the 15th of June, after the participants, including the Seoul Student Federation and the Myeongdong Cathedral authorities, voted narrowly to end their protest. Despite this, the protest is considered as a significant event in the struggle for democracy, and provided inspiration for the mass-organised civil rights movement in Korea.

This film, made between 1996 and 1997, is an attempt to reflect on and make collective sense of the course of events. It weaves its narrative through a mixture of film footage and newsreel, along with interviews with some of the participants of the protest reflecting on the events after a decade has passed. Film footage and eye witness accounts reveal the development of the protest, both the hopes and the disagreements of the protesters, as well as the political background to the event. Above all, the film focuses on the sudden dispersal of this very symbolic protest in Myeongdong, a protest which captured the attention of people not only in Korea, but throughout the entire world.