In the past, Korea was under the rule of Japan. But the love Koreans have for their nation and the strong spirit of patriotism led them to fight to get their lands back. For this, they held an independence movement, having Guam church as their starting point.
Due to this, it has become now an exhibition hall. Where you can learn about the past. And understand how the movement was held. So as understand how the church was linked to this important part of the history.
Now, let us introduce you in depth the importance of this place. So when you visit, you feel more amazed.
The person who built Guam Church was W. M. Junkin. A doctor and missionary who had an important role in the modern education project in Gunsan. So as in the Presbyterian church.
The Guam Church, was the starting point for the movement of independence in Gunsan. As the first movement took place there. In March 5th 1919. Where some Koreans declared their strong will of independence to the world. Through missionary work and educational work.
Gunsan city bought this church in 2007. Therefore, now it is just the former church. And they turned it into independence memorial hall. Where you can learn about the past and get to know the outline history of the local independence movement.
In case you are interesting about religion. This place is a must visit for you. Since they as well show the Bible and talk about the religious practices they had in 1910s. Which are of course, linked to the wish of Independence.
With this, they aim to commemorate the spirit of fight they had. And the sacrifice of those figures that will continue to inspire future generations for years.
Who is McCleary Junkin?
William McCleary Junkin (1865 ~ 1908) was one of the seven pioneering missionaries dispatched by the Namjangro Church’s missionary department. Who visited Korea on November 3, 1892. And happen to establish a missionary branch.
He led the modern education project in Gunsan as well. As he established the Guam Jesus Hospital and Youngmyeong School. In addition to the Guam Church. Plus he set an orphanage.
He was fluent in Korean. Due to this, he had followers until his last moments.
So as soon as he got sick, he left a few words for the Koreans around him. Saying goodbye to his loved ones. Which made everyone’s heart warm.
Even his last words, were worthy of admiration. As he said ‘If I die here, it is valuable to die. As I am on my way with happiness. Since death was a triumph’.
Due to this, he is remembered. And his tomb so as memorial are there to be seen.
The first movement of independence
This movement began when Kim Byung-soo, a young student, delivered the Declaration of Independence. As he received 200 copies from Lee Gap-sung, one of the 33 representatives of the nation.
Upon arriving to Gunsan in February 28, 1919, Kim Byung-soo met some teachers of the Yeongmyeong School. With whom he delivered the Declaration of Independence.
In the dormitory of that school, the national flag was painted and 3,500 copies were done in secret. To distribute the day of the movement.
But after finishing his plan to protest in Gunsan, he was arrested on March 5th. For leading independence demonstrations along with student representatives Kang Gi-deok and Kim Won-byeok.
Although the plan seemed to be almost ruined, Kim Yun-sil had an emergency meeting. Where him and other student representatives, decided to join forces. And were able to lead people in the protest.
Almost 1,000 people were there. Which is a big number taking in consideration that Gunsan had a population of 13,604 (6,581 Koreans, 6,809 Japanese and 214 foreigners).
The plan was successful. Even though there were many sacrifices. At the end, 30,700 people participated.
The importance of Guam Church
As we mentioned before, the starting point of the movement of independence was the Guam Church. Which took place in March 5, 1919.
It is worth to mention that this church was established in 1896 by missionaries W. M. Junkin and Adam D. D.
It played a role as a local church and mission base. Where patriotism was taught. In addition to religion.
That is why on March 5, 1919, more than 28 members of the Guam Church were led and participated in Geosa Temple, making 14 independent merits.
Plus the young student who started the movement, Kim Byung-soo, got his spirit of patriotism from Yeongmyeong School and Guam Church.
And gave the Declaration of Independence to the pastor Park Yeon-se. Who was later arrested along some other teachers. After being attacked by the Japanese police.
It is important to mention that Jeon Se-jong (Student at Youngmyeong School), Yang Ki-jun (Guam Church and Jesus Hospital), Yoo Han-Jung (Guam Jesus Hospital) and Kim Yoo-sil (Teacher at Guam Church) were as well some of the main characters of this movement.
What to see
As we mentioned before, Guam church runs a memorial hall for the March 1st Independence movement in Gunsan. Where you can in fact see how Gunsan was during the Japanese colonial era. And the history behind.
As soon as you enter, you will be welcomed by a video. Which tells the background of the March 5th movement in Gunsan in detail. It is in fact important to see it. In case you want to understand well the history.
Then, in the exhibition you will be able to see pictures from the past. So as some replicas.
You can as well read about the religious practices from back then. And of course, learn about the members from the church.
If you a big fan of history, this place is worth the visit. Although it is not open at the moment. Due to COVID.
It is worth to mention, that you can read the history in depth in the main museum of the park. In case you want to visit it, please read the next article.
This place is located in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province.
How to get there:
From Gunsan Station, you can take bus no. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 83. And get off at the bus stop ‘구암주공아파트’. Where you need to go back to the first corner and turn to your left. From there, you must walk straight until you see a church called ‘Gunsandongmyeong’. Where you must turn to your right and walk to the second corner. From there, you need to turn to your right and keep walking.
Monday to Friday: 09:00 ~ 17:00
In case you are a big fan of history, then Guam church is a must visit for you, since it is the starting point of the independence movement of Gunsan. There, you will be able to know about the past.
If you have already gone, what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!
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