Results for category "Gwangju korea"

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The History of Gwangju


City of light Gwangju(e-book)


Gwangju is the ‘city of light’. The name of Gwangju was used for the first time in the 23rd year (940) of the reign of King Taejo in the Goryeo Dynasty. While the reason why the city was so named is unknown, it is said to originate from one of the great scholars of the Goryeo Dynasty, Yi Saek, who, according to an interpretation in his book “Seoseokjueonggi,” named the area “Gwangjiju” or “village of light.” Therefore, Gwangju is a city of the sun and light. As shown in the name, Gwangju has always played a role of salt and light in Korea. During Japanese colonization, Gwangju’s spirit shone in righteous activities and in the Gwangju Students Independence Movement. In the 1980s, the May 18th Democratic Movement was a radiant beacon of democratization. These are related to the name of Gwangju.


Mahan period

The Mahan period was the first period during which Gwangju was inhabited. In the area of Mahan, Gusaodan and Bulmi were related to Gwangju. Gusaodan was Jinwon-myeon, Jangseong-gun and Bulmi was in Naju respectively.

Baekje Period

The Baekje was one of 54 countries of Mahan established by immigrants from the collapsed Gojosun through an extension of the reign after settling on the banks of the Han and integrating neighboring annexed countries.
The book titled “Samguk Sagi”, meaning “History of Three Kingdoms”, tells that there were 147 ‘gun and hyeon’, or administrative units. guns and hyeons in Jeollanam-do are under GuhwaHaseong (presently Jangseong and Gurye) in the south, which is one of 5 direction including the middle, east, south, west, and north. At that time the region of Gwangju belonged to Mujin-ju while there were also Mydongburi hyeon (presently Nampyeon), Bongnyong hyeon (region of Naju), and Gulji hyeon (Changpyeong) which were directly controlled cities. Jeollanam-do had 13 guns and 42 hyeons.

Unified Silla Dynasty

About 1200 years ago, 16 years after beginning the rule of the Silla, King Gyeondeok (754) established the unification of the Korean Peninsula and divided the nation into 9 jus. Guns and hyeons were under the jus(district names).

It had 5 kyungs including Geumhae-kyung (Yangju), Jungwon-kyung (Hanju), Bukwon-kyun (Sakju), Seowon-kyung (Ungju) and Namwon-kyung (Jeonju). In Unified Silla, Jeollanam-do is Muju of Namwon-kyung and had 15 guns and 32 hyeons.

Late Three Kingdoms Period

Kyunhyon came from Gaeun-hyeon in Sangju and served as the head of ‘bangsupae’ which defended the eastern and southern coast. He ruled Mujin-ju in the 6th year of Queen Jinseong and occupied the neighboring guns and hyeons(regional district names), making inroads into Wansanju (Today’s Jeonju). He made Wansanju the capital of the Late Baekje Kingdom and called himself king.

Goryeo Dynasty

In 19th year of king Taejo’s reign, Singeom, who was Kyunjyon’s son, surrendered to the Goryeo Dynasty and thereafter the Late Baekje Kingdom collapsed. In the 23rd year of king Taejo’s reign (940), Mujinju was renamed as Gwangju and at same time, Dodok-bu(an administrative district office) was set up.

Government organizations were reshuffled in 14th year of King Sejong and the nation was divided into 3 kyeongs, 4 dohobus, and 10 dos. At the same time, 12 Jumoks(governor) changed into 12 Jujeoldosa(governor) and Jeollanam-do was renamed as Haeyang-do. Doho-bu was set up in Annam (modern Yeongam) and Jasa was established in Gwangju.

Joseon Dynasty

Jeolla-do was made up of Jwa-do and U-do (meaning left-do and right-do) and Gwangju was in Jwa-do. From the 12th year of king Sejong’s reign, dos were frequently reduced or restored, embroiled in various incidents. When Japan invaded Korea in 1592, patriotic activities occurred in Gwangju, and the coast of Jeollanam-do was the stage for General Yi Sunshin.

Japanese rule of Korea

On September 30, 1910, when Japan annexed Korea, according to new regional systems, the eupjang (a head of eup) ruled Gwangju and the region within Gwangju-eup was called Seongjae-myeon. Out of seong are Gyraebang, Gongsubang, and Budongbang and Gwangju-myeon was so called by annexing 1 myeon and 3 bangs. On April 1, 1931, according to the revision of the regional system, Gwangju was promoted to Gwangju-eup and the administrative system was reformed, promoting to Gwangju to Gwangju-bu. The administrative regions were expanded to 41 Jungs.

Republic of Korea

With the defeat of Japan by the UN on August 15, 1945, Korea was under a trusteeship administration of the United States for 2 years and 11 months, but, on June 3, 1947, the military government office was abolished and in August, 1948, new governments were established. Coupled with this, in 1949, Gwangju-bu changed into Gwangju City with two changes in administrative systems. In 1963, the office of Seochang and Daechon was annexed into Gwangsan-gun, the regions under the city were contracted to 214.92 ㎢ and had 6 offices and 45 dongs. On November 1, 1986, the ‘Act on Installing Jikhalsi’ was promulgated and Gwangju was promoted to Jikhalsi following Busan, Daegu, and Incheon. At that time, it had 3 gus and 72 dongs and the area of administration reached only 215.11 ㎢ but with the promulgation of the 3963th law, Songjung city and Gwangsan-gun were integrated into Gwangju Jikhalsi, increasing the area to 501.20㎢ and laying the foundation for the city with key functions in the southwest area of Korea. On January 1, 1995, Gwangju Jikhalsi was changed into Gwangju Metropolitan City and Nam-gu was separated from Seo-gu. As of late December, 2008, 5 gus and 872 dongs were under Gwangju.

Gwangju has made every effort to transform itself into the leading city of transportation, information and communication, cutting-edge industries and leading culture and arts, which leads the era of the southwest coast with in an era of local autonomy.


Key City of West-South Regions

Gwangju is the leading city of the Honam region, with the entire nation within a day’s reach. The emerging importance of Korea’s western coastline and the government’s effort to balance growth across the nation have triggered large-scale urban development projects such as the construction of the Gwangju hi-tech industrial complex, transformation of Gwangju into a center of production, and improvement of housing and leisure facilities. Such support will boost Gwangju’s status as the hub of Korea’s southwest region.

Historic City of Patriotism

Gwangju successfully defended itself during the seven-year-long Japanese invasion into Korea beginning in 1592 and, since then, has always been at the forefront of the movement against invaders. This tradition, in which citizens fought bravely in times of crisis in the nation has continued throughout history. Citizens sacrificed their lives during the Japanese invasion in 1592, fought against the colonialist Japanese rule in the early 1900s, and again, lost many lives during the democratic movement in May 1980 in defense of justice, democracy, human rights and freedom.

Gwangju has staged campaigns to designate May 18th as a national holiday, and completing the effort to designate the May 18th Cemetery as a shrine in homage to the lives sacrificed, to continue its tradition of defending democracy, and to establish its position as part of the democratic history of the world.

City of Culture and the Arts

Gwangju has long been regarded as a city rich in culture and art. It has given birth to renowned and respected scholars, poets and artists. Gwangju is also the place where the Southern School of Chinese Painting, or Namjonghwa, as well as pansori(a form of Korean performance art), a traditional Korean singing genre, originated.

The level of artistic sophistication is higher than any other region in Korea, with a large proportion of the population involved in the arts field. The humble nature of the people, who do not pursue worldly gain, has enabled legions of people to enjoy art, dance and music over the years. The Gwangju Biennale, an international arts festival first held in 1995 and is now taking place every two years, has further enhanced Gwangju’s worldwide reputation as a city of art.

Traditional City of Education

The hometown of numerous renowned scholars, Gwangju has 609 schools, consisting of 145 kindergartens, 145 elementary schools, 85 middle schools, 65 high schools, 7 junior colleges, 9 universities, 42 graduate schools, and 11 others (as of Dec 31, 2010) with a total of 398,712 students, or 27.5% of the total city population. The average number of students per household (0.8) reflects the city’s characteristic as the home of education.