May 20, 2021
From Libcom

Gwangju demonstrators around the fountain

2017 PDF edition of the seminal Gwangju Diary, written by Lee Jae-eui, and originally published in 1985, with an eyewitness day-to-day account of the Gwangju uprising of 1980.

Gwangju Diary: Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Age, the English translation by Seol Kap Su and Nick Mamatas of Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Age, is a day-to-day eyewitness account of the May 18 Uprising first published in 1985. Upon publication, the Korean version of the book was banned by the government until 1988 when Chun Doo-hwan stepped down as president. Also known by its shortened title “Beyond, Beyond,” more than one million copies of the book were sold and it is still considered one of the most important accounts of the May 18 Uprising in Korea.

The author, Lee Jae-eui wrote the book in 1985 based upon many interviews and his concern was to tell the truth about what had happened in Gwangju in May of 1980. Lee was a junior at Gwangju’s Chonnam National University at that time. The detailed records rest on his experience and oral testimonies.

This book appeared in two principal Korean editions: in 1985, as Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Age; and in 1989, as May 18: The Record of Life and Death.

Its English edition Gwangju Diary was first published by the UCLA Asian Pacific Monograph Series in 1999. After being out of print, it has been published again. In May 2017, the May 18 Memorial Foundation published a new and expanded edition.

But we have corrected factual errors and supplied notes to account for changes in our historical understanding since 1985 to share the truth of May 18 Uprising at international level. Rather than note each change, which seemed cumbersome for readers, we decided with Lee Jae-eui to present this first English rendering as a revised edition. We chose a new title: Gwangju Diary: Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Age.


List of maps
Translator`s Note / Kap Su Seol and Nick Mamatas

Author`s Preface th the English Edition / Lee Jae-eui

Chapter Ⅰ: The Uprising
May 14 and 15 – Taking to the streets
May 16 – March of torches
May 17 – Prelude to suppression
May 18 – Total martial law
Chapter Ⅱ: Open Rebellion
May 19 – Day two of the uprising
Mass uprising: May 20 – Day three: the battle of Kumnam Avenue
Armed uprising triumphant: May 21 – Day four: rebels seize vehicles
Chapter Ⅲ: Gwangju, Gwangju, Gwangju
Days of liberation Ⅰ: May 22 – Day five of the uprising
Days of liberation Ⅱ: May 23 – Day six of the uprising
Days of liberation Ⅲ: May 24 – Day seven of the uprising
Days of liberation Ⅳ: May 25 – Day eight of the uprising
Days of liberation Ⅴ: May 26 – Day nine of the uprising
Chapter Ⅳ: The End of the Uprising
May 27 – The final battle
The end
Gwangju Diary: The View from Washington
Korean demoracy vs. Cold War politics
America`s friends in Seoul
U.S. approval of korean military preparations, May 1980
The movements of the paratroopers
U.S. distortions of the Gwangju uprising
Meeting at the White House
Biographical Notes

List of Maps

1. Korea / Gwangju
2. Student protesters` march downtown from Chonnam University (10:30 p.m., May 18)
3. Clash with paratroopers (10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., May 19)
4. Afternoon clash (2:00 to 4:30 p.m., May 19)
5. Battle at the Intercity Bus Terminal (4:00 to 5:00 p.m., May 19)
6. Battle at the Gwangju Train Station
7. Battle at Kumnam Avenue (3:00 to 6:00 p.m., May 20)
8. Cabbie troops` march (6:00 to 6:30 p.m., May 20)
9. Battle at Kumnam Avenue (6:00 to 9:00 p.m., May 20)
10. Battles at M.B.C. and the Labor Supervision Office (7:30 to 12:00 p.m., May 20)
11. The military`s final cordons (12:00 p.m., May 20)
12. Battle at the train station (9:00 p.m., May 21 to 4:00 a.m., May 22)
13. The spread of the uprising
14. The militia changes the final cordons of the military (3:00 to 5:00 p.m., May21)
15. The retreat of the military (7:00 p.m., May 21)

Public domain PDF taken from

Attachment Size
Gwangju diary resized-compressed.pdf 5.04 MB