The legacy of the Yonsei student whose death in 1987 ignited the democracy movement that ended the Chun Doo-Hwan dictatorship was both honored and analyzed on November 23 during the first Lee Han-Yeol Academic Seminar.
The event was hosted by the Democratic Movement Memorial Association of Yonsei University and the Lee Han Yeol Memorial Museum and was organized by the YSB.
"The first time always has difficulties and excitement," said Young-Ho Eom, YSB dean in a welcoming speech in which he asked for support and encouragement so that the Lee Han-Yeol Academic Seminar can represent to society the spirit of the Korean people.
Dong-Joon Min, senior vice president for Administration and Development of Yonsei University, and Choong-Kwon Yoo, executive director of Lee Han Yeol Memorial Museum, subsequently spoke.
"From this year's film symposium, to the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the death of Lee Han-Yeol, to this first academic seminar, it has been a year that commemorated the spirit of Lee Han-Yeol and his work for democratization," Min said.
Then Yoo said, "I hope the system will turn into an international academic conference," expressing deep gratitude to Yonsei University for its hard work in organizing the many events related to Lee Han-Yeol’s memory.
Mrs. Bae Eun-sim, the mother of Lee Han-Yeol, attended the ceremony, making it even more meaningful and poignant.
After Min and Yoo spoke, the academic presentations began with Sang-Suk Kim, a lecturer at the Catholic University of Korea, who suggested an end to portraying Lee Han-Yeol as a passive victim of the riot police and instead focus on his activism and contributions to the student movement. Kim then traced Lee’s movements from when he entered Yonsei University in 1986 to his death.
Kim was followed by Myung-Lim Park, professor of Yonsei Area Studies and director of the Kim Dae-Jung Presidential Library. Park emphasized the importance of reexamining the reality of the Republic of Korea and the historical significance of the sacrifice of Lee Han-Yeol. He also recalled that the spirit of the struggle, which had been concentrated in a small number of ordinary students and citizens, became a mass movement of ordinary citizens through the death of Lee Han-Yeol. Although the numerous ‘Lee Han-Yeols’ who survived the struggle at that time have become a very influential generation today, he questioned if society has really become one that is equal and non-discriminatory.
In the debate session, Emeritus Professor Se-Cheol Oh of Management commented that "it is meaningful in that we have evaluated Lee Han-Yeol as a student activist." Sung-Dae Cho, a professor at Hanshin University, called attention to the various results of his research on the political behavior and ideology of the generation who experienced the 1987 democratization movement.
Bae Eun-sim, Lee’s mother made a brief comment. "I didn't know that Han Yeol's death was such a complicated problem," she said. "I have come to think there are a lot of Lee Han-Yeols in this world, and I hope that our democracy will develop even more through the academic seminar."