President Yoon Suk Yeol, centr, visits the April 19th National Cemetery in Seoul, April 19, to mark the 64th anniversary of the April 19, 1960, pro-democracy uprising by students. Yonhap

President Yoon Suk Yeol paid his respects to the victims of a 1960 pro-democracy civil uprising Friday, the 64th anniversary of the watershed event that led to the ouster of Korea’s first President Rhee Syng-man.Yoon visited the April 19th National Cemetery in northern Seoul, which holds the remains of 186 people killed in the uprising, where he offered flowers and burned incense in front of a monument honoring the victims.Yoon prayed for the souls of the victims and resolved to further develop the liberal democracy they defended through revolution, the presidential office said. The civil revolt was touched off by public anger over vote rigging in the presidential election by the Rhee government in power at the time.A series of nationwide student protests culminated on April 19, with hundreds of demonstrators killed or wounded in clashes with armed police.

The uprising ultimately forced Rhee to step down after 12 years in office. Rhee was the first president of Korea, which was founded in 1948 after its liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule. Rhee later went into exile in Hawaii and died there in 1965.Opposition parties expressed regret at Yoon’s absence from a memorial ceremony held at the cemetery the same day.The minor Rebuilding Korea Party, in particular, said Yoon visited the cemetery in a low-key manner like “a thief,” while the party’s chief Cho Kuk took to Facebook to question what the president was up to at the time of the ceremony and whether he does “not want to meet opposition leaders to that extent.”The presidential office bristled at the accusations.”Suggesting the president avoided the ceremony because he was reluctant to meet with opposition leaders is completely different from the truth,” a presidential official told reporters. “Not everything that happens in the world can revolve around him. I think his self-love is excessive.”The official noted that past presidents have typically attended a memorial ceremony for the 1960 uprising once during their terms and 스포츠토토존 only paid their respects to the victims in other years. Yoon attended last year’s ceremony. 

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