May 18th National Cemetery

Memorial in Gwangju

Opened in 1997, this is the final burial place for victims of the May 18 Democratic Uprising of 1980, one of the most tragic incidents in modern Korean history. Officially, the casualties include 228 dead or missing and 4141 wounded, but the real numbers are believed to be much higher. A small but emotionally charged museum shows photographs, blood-stained flags, and a hard-hitting film that gives a dramatic account of the traumatic events that still scar the country’s political landscape.

On the right, a memorial hall displays photographs of the ordinary folk – from students to grandmothers – who paid the ultimate price during the military government’s crackdown. A five-minute walk through the memorial park leads to the reinstated original cemetery, where the victims were hurriedly buried without proper ceremony. The bodies were later reinterred in the new cemetery.

Get the bus (one hour, every 30 minutes) in front of the the bus terminal, train station or along Geumnam-ro.