Why Should We Remember the March 1st Movement?

Submission Deadline Extended through March 31, 2013.

The Korean American Project asks…

“Why should we remember the March First Movement?”

Revolution Rages On

2013 High School Essay Contest


In 1905, Korea was placed under the military rule of Japan. On March 1st, 1919, Koreans erupted into a wide-scale protest against Japanese occupation forces in what became known as the March 1st Movement. As the nation’s first people’s movement, the events of that day live on in the hearts and minds of millions of Koreans and are commemorated by a reading of the Independence Declaration at an annual ceremony. However, the significance of the movement is not clearly understood by the Korean people, and scholars and intellectuals in Korea differ in their assessment of its significance.

Energy for a Korean independence movement grew between 1910 and 1919, as the general populace became increasingly educated and willing to stand up against the Japanese. General resentment erupted into wide-scale protest on March 1st, 1919, slightly more than a month after the death of Korea’s Emperor Gojong.

Just over a year before, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had given his famous Fourteen Points speech that apparently served as a rallying point for students and community leaders in their efforts to form a strong independence movement. The events that followed are referred to as the March First Movement, the Samil Independence Movement, or the Manse Demonstrations.

Despite the campaign’s failure to achieve its goal of independence, March First is celebrated as a national holiday in both North and South Korea today. The campaign for Korean independence is remembered as the most serious act of resistance to Japanese power of its time, and as a canonical example of nonviolent struggle against a foreign power.


The event of the March First Independence Movement lives in the hearts and minds of the Korean people. It was the first people’s movement in Korean history, and the event is commemorated by reading the Independence Declaration at the annual ceremony on March First every year.

The Korean American Project’s 2013 Student Essay Contest asks why the March 1st Movement should be remembered. Korean American students in grades 7-12 are invited to give their opinion as to the impact the movement had on Korean history and the spirit of the Korean people. What can students do to combat and prevent prejudice, discrimination, and violence in our world today? What lessons from the March 1st Movement are relevant to nations today?

This is NOT a research paper.  Your essay will be judged foremost for its originality, clarity of expression, and adherence to contest theme, as well as its historical accuracy, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  The Korean American Project staff will read and evaluate entries.


First place winner will receive $1,000

Second place winner will receive $500

Two – third place winners will receive $250.

Ten honorable mentions

Winning essays will be featured in the major Korean magazines and newspapers and on spotlightkorea.org. Applications and information are available on spotlightkorea.org, and all entries must be submitted to by March 31, 2013.


  • Contest is open to all Korean American junior and senior high school students in the United States.
  • Your essay must be 1,000 words or less.
  • Only one essay per student may be submitted.
  • All essays should be double spaced, have 1 inch margins, include page numbers, be typed in 12 point font, be in Microsoft Word or a compatible format.


Submissions must be submitted to  or sent to:

The Korean American Project
3 Rye Ridge Plaza Suite 135
Rye Brook, New York, 10573

Deadline is March 31, 2013 for submissions.


Spotlight Korea is a non-profit organization, founded under the auspices of The Korean American Project, to enhance the presence of Korean history, culture, and art in primary and secondary schools throughout the United States. Spotlight Korea is the only site in the world to focus solely on Korean history, art, literature, and culture while providing interactive children’s activities, lesson plans for educators, and a singular multimedia experience.

“As a Korean-American still closely connected to my ancestral home, I want to share Korea with my adopted nation and reconnect Korean-Americans to their heritage,” says Susanna Park, founder of The Korean American Project and Spotlight Korea. “Despite the fact that Korea has an ancient culture older than the pyramids, and despite the fact that Korea today is a global leader in technologies used for the information, space, automotive, and robotics industries, the country is largely absent from educational curricula throughout the United States. Enhancing the presence of Korean history, art, literature, and culture in US primary and secondary schools has become my mission.”

Resources can be found at Think Korea