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Witnessing Gwangju: A Memoir

Publisher: , 2020
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

Witnessing Gwangju describes the life-altering experience of young Peace Corps volunteer, Paul Courtright.  Courtright was in the countryside of South Korea in 1980 to help leprosy patients. On the way back home from his medical checkup, Courtright was caught in the middle of what became known by some as the Gwangju Massacre, also referred to as the May 18 Democratic Uprising where it is estimated that over 600 people were killed.  Between Peace Corps policy and frustration, he decided to act. He escaped Gwangju to tell the US Embassy what was happening. This book is based on his eye witness account. His memoir is a record of the Gwangju Uprising as well as a poignant story about how the incident changed a young man’s life in a very short period of time.

From the Prologue:

“We have no voice. You have to be our voice. You have to tell people outside what they’re doing to us.” She glanced around the street, then returned her fearless gaze to me. I was rooted to the spot. I was to be the “witness” and she had given me a clear task. I failed the halmeoni. I was given a responsibility that now, forty years later, I can finally face. I hope I’m not too late.

Paul Courtright was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Jeonnam Province of Korea from 1979-81

Robin Moyer was in Seoul, South Korea on assignment for Time Magazine when he heard about the 1980 Gwangju uprising. Shortly after covering Gwangju he became a Time contract photographer (1982–1999) and spent a lot of time photographing feature stories as well as breaking news.

Watch an RASKB talk by Paul Courtright about this book

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.