"May 18th, our nation's inheritence. The Republic of Korea, where justice prevails."
Under that moving title, the ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the May 18 Democracy Movement commenced on Thursday at 10 a.m.
This was the new administration's first official ceremony, and it commemorated the hundreds of people who died in the pro-democracy movement on May 18, 1980, during the reign of former President Chun Doo-hwan.
President Moon Jae-in himself attended the ceremony, along with government officials, the leadership of the ruling and opposition parties, the families of the victims, and other citizens.
In total about 10-thousand people, the biggest crowd to attend since May 18th was designated by the government as a national memorial day in 1997.
The ceremony began with the singing of the national anthem, followed by the pledge of allegiance to the Korean flag, and the dedication of a wreath at the memorial site.
But perhaps the highlight came when all attendees sang in unison a controversial protest anthem “March for the Beloved," a song dedicated to the victims, sung at the official observance for the first time in 9 nine years.
"March for the Beloved" had been sung until 2008, when a conservative government came to power.
Since then, the song had been sung by a choir, and it was left up to the attendees whether to sing along or not, leading to claims that the government at the time was refusing to acknowledge the tragic event.
President Moon issued an executive order last Friday to have the ceremony program call for the song to be sung in unison to honor the victims and the spirit of democracy
Hwang Hojun, Arirang News.