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Learning about the Student Independence Movement Day through K-drama

As South Korea observes Student Independence Movement Day, today, on the 3rd of November, we can delve deeper into the significance of this historical day through the lens of a remarkable K-drama. This day pays tribute to the brave acts of Korean students who played a pivotal role in the country's struggle for independence from Japanese colonial rule. To understand the essence of this day, we'll explore its historical background, the role of leading intellectuals, and how it's portrayed in the K-drama Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet.


Kang Ha Neul (left) stars in this amazing historical drama
Kang Ha Neul (left) stars in this amazing historical drama

Student Independence Movement Day: A Historical Overview


Student Independence Movement Day, known as "학생독립운동" in Korean, commemorates the unwavering dedication of Korean students during the Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. Students emerged as torchbearers in the fight for Korean independence, and the activities surrounding this day symbolize their unwavering commitment to national liberation.


The Students: Vanguard of the Movement


Student Independence Movement Day for November 3, 2023
Student Independence Movement Day for November 3, 2023

During the Student Independence Movement of November 3, Korean students stood as the leading intellectuals of their time. They played a pivotal role in leading the national movement through their superior organizational power and passion. Student organizations such as the Shinganhoe, Joseon Youth Association, and the Joseon Student Chonwi Alliance became key pillars of the movement, showcasing the unity and determination of the youth.


The Nationwide Anti-Japanese National Movement


The student independence movement quickly evolved into a nationwide anti-Japanese national movement. It persisted for five months, uniting over 54,000 students from different schools and grades. This fervor extended beyond Korea's borders, sparking rallies and "manse (hurray)" demonstrations in regions like Jiandao and Jilin in Manchuria, Shanghai, and Beijing in China, as well as within Japan and the United States.


Portrayal in K-drama: Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet (2016)


Actress Choi Hee Seo plays Kumi in "Dongju" (YONHAP)
Actress Choi Hee Seo plays Kumi in "Dongju" (YONHAP)

Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet, directed by Lee Joon Ik, offers an artistic portrayal of the spirit and sacrifices of the Student Independence Movement. This K-drama is based on the life of the renowned poet Yun Dong Ju. Through the lens of Yun Dong Ju, the drama encapsulates the struggles and sacrifices made by Korean students during the Japanese colonial period.


The cast of "Dongju" with director Lee Joon Ik (right)
The cast of "Dongju" with director Lee Joon Ik (right)

Yun Dong Ju, a student at Yeongseong High School in Seoul, expressed the aspirations of Korean students for freedom through his poetry and writings. The K-drama traces his life, his powerful poetry, and his active involvement in the independence movement. It provides a moving glimpse into the challenges faced by Korean students who were resolute in their fight for their nation's independence.


Through the K-drama Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet, we can gain a deeper understanding of Student Independence Movement Day and the pivotal role played by Korean students during a critical period in the nation's history.



This day stands as a historical tribute and an enduring source of inspiration for modern generations. It encourages us to appreciate the hard-won freedom we enjoy today and to recognize the sacrifices made by those who fought for independence. The role of leading intellectuals and student organizations, as well as the movement's global reach, epitomizes the indomitable spirit and unity of the Korean people in their quest for freedom.


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