The National 3:15 Cemetery is dedicated to lives lost during a protest in Masan on March 15, 1960. It overlooks Masan from the side of the mountain behind the Hite factory in Masanhoewon gu. In addition to the cemetery, there is a large monument as well. Unrelated, but behind the complex is an impressive collection of craggy rocks to navigate, and eventually it hooks up with a hiking trail. Depending on the season, this back area can be very overgrown.
Some background on March 15, 1960
Protesting the corruption in President Rhee Syng-man’s government, and specifically a rigged vice-presidential election, a thousand citizens in Masan gathered in front the ruling party’s campaign office. During the ensuing confrontation with police, the city power was blacked out, and the police shot at protestors, and protestors threw rocks at the police. While several people died, the real outrage at the incident came when, on April 11, the body of local high school student Kim Ju-yul was found on the beach by a fisherman.
The official autopsy stated that Kim died of drowning, but suspicious protestors forced their way to the body in the hospital, finding Kim to have died from the impact of a tear gas container. This revelation was publicized in major Korean newspapers, along with a graphic photo.
The outrage was felt nation-wide, and is credited with being the catalyst for a national protestknown as the April Revolution. Eventually, protests grew larger and larger, and by the end of April, President Rhee resigned, escaping via a CIA airplane to live in Hawaii in exile. The vice-president Lee Gibung (winner of the fraudulent election) committed suicide with his family.
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