Koreans, it seems, are so happy to be free of their former colonial Japanese slave masters that they have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR July 4th style holidays. Where as most nations see fit to do with one, Korea breaks it out as follows:

1) Independence Movement Day: One should not assume this holiday shares any similarities to America's Independence Day beyond the name. The original American Independence Day was, by in large, a success. The British were forced out -- forced to take their limey asses to Canada where they establish non-discriminatory gay marriage, an end to slavery a century before Lincoln was old enough to opt not to shave, a multi cultural society where people of different heritages don't feel an overwhelming need to swear they aren't any less American (err Canadian) for not jettisoning the culture of their motherland, that crazy universal healthcare thang, and bitterly high taxes. The Korean version celebrates a day in March 1919 when a handful of intellectuals proclaimed Korea's independence and the Japanese responded by butchering thousands of Koreans and repressing Korea even more until 30 years later America dropped a couple nuclear bombs on Japan and forced Japan to leave Korea. No one in Korea bothers to thank America on this day.

2) Constitution Day: Commemorates the day the Korean constitution was drafted in 1948. For forty years after it was drafted it was ignored and treated as so much toilet paper by dictators. While judges and politicians are generally abiding by the constitution these days, a recent Korean supreme court ruling has also established there exists a "customary constitution" which basically means anything can be ruled unconstitutional if a panel of judges decides it might make too many Koreans miffy.

3) Liberation Day: What the rest of the world calls VJ Day. No one in Korea bothers to thank America on this day.

4) Foundation Day: The day a sky god founded Korea. Well, shit.

And it's this last July 4esque holiday of which this node is about. Foundation Day is known in Korean as Gae chun jul. You can translate that at least a couple ways. Korean seems to have three words for most things. There's the native Korean word. There's the Chinese word. And then there's the "Konglish" (Koreanized English) version. Gae chun jul should be interpreted using the Chinese meanings, in the same way "post hoc" should be interpreted using the Latin ("after this") versus the native English ("mail a pig's hind quarters"). The Chinese would literally mean "Heaven's Opening Day." However, if you translate it using the native Korean, you get "Temple of a 1,000 Dogs" (which was AD&D module M3).

Anyway, after you have three July 4esque holidays which are meant to give the finger to the Japanese, you don't really question the rationality of having a holiday which celebrates Korea's foundation back in 2333 BC by a sky god. Right not 1776 but more than 4,000 years ago. It went a bit like this. A sky god came to earth and set up shop in North Korea (yeah). He impregnated a bear (which he conveniently changed to a woman before knocking it up -- this point conveniently keeps Korea just one hair away from having the distinction of being the only nation born not in revolution, not in sober diplomatic discourse, but in bestiality). The bear woman squeezed out a kid called Tangun who became Korea's first king and ruled for 1,908 years and then went into retirement as a mountain god (a bit like Gerald Ford).

Should anyone doubt this tale of a sky god and a bear changed into a woman and a 2000 year old god king ruler, North Korea claims they have the archeological proof. If you can't take the word of a North Korean, whose word can you take, huh?

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