Ryu Gwansun

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Ryu.
Ryu Gwansun
Yu Gwan-sun.JPG
Ryu Gwan-sun
Korean name
Hangul 유관순
Hanja 柳寬順
Revised Romanization Ryu, Gwansun
McCune–Reischauer Ryu, Kwansun

Ryu Gwansun (December 16, 1902 – September 28, 1920), also known as Yu Gwansun or Yoo Kwan-soon, was an organizer in what would come to be known as the March 1st Movement against the Imperial Japanese colonial rule of Korea in South Chungcheong.[1] The March 1st Movement was a peaceful proclamation by the Korean people for their freedom from the Imperial Japanese. Ryu Gwansun is one of the best known participants in this movement, and she became the symbol of Korea's fight for independence through peaceful protest.

Early life and education[edit]

Gwansun was from Chungcheong Province, Korea. She had a teacher, Alice Sharp, who was a Western missionary. Sharp referred Gwansun to Ewha Womans University/School, which is now known as Ewha University, in Seoul. And she entered Ewha Woman's School as a scholarship student. Scholarship students did not have to pay school expense and after graduation, they worked as teacher. In 1919, Gwansun was a student at the University's high school, where she witnessed the beginnings of the March First Movement. Gwansun participated in March First Movement, and also participated in demonstration which was held at seoul March 5. After that, Ewha Woman’s School was temporarily closed by Governor-General of Korea so Gwansun returned to Cheonan.[2]


Independence demonstration[edit]

Gwansun left Seoul after an order by the Japanese government closing all Korean schools because of independence protests. She returned to her home in Jiryeong-ri (now Yongdu-ri) and became involved in the protest movement.[3][4][5]

Awunae demonstration and Arrest[edit]

Along with her family, she began to arouse public feelings against the Japanese occupation. She visited churches and explained to people about conditions of demonstrations that were held in Seoul. She also planned[citation needed] a demonstration with Cho In-won and Kim Goo-Eung for independence, which included people from some neighboring towns, Yeongi, Chungju, Cheonan and Jincheon, which took place on the first lunar day of March 1919 in Awunae Marketplace, beginning at 9:00 a.m.. About 2,000 demonstrators participated, shouting, "Long live Korean Independence!" ("대한독립만세"). The Japanese police were dispatched at around 1:00 p.m. that same day, and Ryu was arrested with other demonstrators. Both of her parents were killed by Japanese police's gun shots and also Jo in won was injured during the demonstration.[citation needed] After being arrested, Gwansun refused a suggestion, that because she was minor, she could admit to her crime, cooperate with the investigation, to get a light penalty. After that, she suffered torture but she did not disclose any names of cooperators. [6]

Imprisonment and Utterance[edit]

Ryu served a brief detention at Cheonan Japanese Military Police Station. She was transferred to the prison of Gongju police station and she stood trial at the Gongju local court on May 9. Gwansun was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for sedition and security law violation. She appealed against that decision. But on June 30, she gave up on the appeal and then she was tried and sentenced to five years of imprisonment at Seodaemun Prison. During the trial, Gwansun made a strong protest against unfair Japanese colonial administration and law of Governor-General of Korea. She said, because they were unfair, therefore, the standing trial by Japanese judge was unfair. During her sentence, Ryu Gwan-Sun continued to protest for the independence of Korea, for which she received beatings and other forms of torture at the hands of Japanese officers. She died in prison on September 28, 1920(It is 3 months before of expiration), reportedly as the result of the torture.[7] By the data which is discovered on November 2011, Ryu Gwansun was killed in prison. She was one of an estimated 7,500 Korean citizens who died as a result of these protests, of the approximately 45,000 who were arrested in the same period.[8][9]

After Death[edit]

The Japanese prison officials initially refused to release her body to secure the reason of her death because she was tortured to death, but eventually released it, in a Saucony Vacuum Company oil crate, to Lulu Frey and Jeannette Walter, principals of Ewha Womans School after Frey and Walter threatened to publicize the cause of her death. Her body was reported to have been cut into pieces, but in fact according to Walter, who dressed her body for funeral, this allegation was false.[10] On October 14, 1920, her funeral was held at the Jung-dong Church by minister Kim Jong-wu and her body was buried in the public Itaewon cemetery. After that, her name was forgotten in the destruction of the cemetery at a later date. After independence, Ryu Gwansun's shrine was built with the cooperation of South Chungcheong and Cheonan.[11]


Gwansun has been called Korea’s Joan of Arc.[by whom?] She was posthumously awarded the Order of Independence Merit in 1962. The March 1st Movement did not immediately grant freedom to Korea, but the Japanese colonial government implemented more lenient policies. People in the foreign community living in Korea started to support Korean independence. Because she did not abandon her convictions after her arrest, Gwansun became a symbol of the Korean fight for independence through peaceful protest and passive resistance.[12]


  1. ^ Bright Figures in Korean History (한국역사를 빚낸사람들), Kim, Han-ryong Compiler (김한룡 엮음) 대일출판사
  2. ^ http://www.cheonan.go.kr/yugwansun/sub01_03.do, 천안시 유관순 열사 기념관 어린시절과 학창시절
  3. ^ Books, L. L. C. (1 May 2010). "Korean People Who Died in Prison Custody: Yu Gwan-Sun, Yun Dong-Ju, Pak Paengnyeon, Kim Jeong-Ho,". General Books LLC – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ Famous Koreans: Six Portraits -Yu, Kwan-Sun (1904–20) - By Mary Connor at aasianst.org
  5. ^ http://www.cheonan.go.kr/yugwansun/sub01_04.do, 천안시 유관순 열사 기념관 3.1 만세운동
  6. ^ http://www.cheonan.go.kr/yugwansun/sub01_05.do, 천안시 유관순 열사 기념관 아우내 만세운동
  7. ^ Lonely Planet; Simon Richmond (1 November 2012). Lonely Planet Seoul. Lonely Planet. pp. 294–. ISBN 978-1-74321-363-6. 
  8. ^ Connor, Mary. "Famous Koreans Six Portratis". Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  9. ^ http://www.cheonan.go.kr/yugwansun/sub01_06.do, 천안시 유관순 열사 기념관 옥중투쟁
  10. ^ Interview with Jeanette Walter quoted in Living Dangerously in Korea: The Western Experience 1900-1950, Clark, Donald N. (Norwalk, CT: Eastbridge, 2003). "... when I was in Korea in 1959, I was interviewed by a group from Kwansoon's school, and I assured them on tape that her body was not mutilated. I had dressed her for burial."
  11. ^ http://www.cheonan.go.kr/yugwansun/sub01_07.do, 천안시 유관순 열사 기념관 열사의 순국
  12. ^ McMurray, Nathan. "Society: The March 1st Independence Movement and its big sister". 10 Magazine. Retrieved 2015-05-05.