There is a big fire in the building. Embarrassed citizens watch the burning buildings, but the blue eye man does not give up. He carries his camera and continues to shoot footage of the building. The people who try to stop him from filming are chasing him, and the blue eye man keeps running to escape. This is a scene from the recent released film, <A Taxi Driver> (2017) This movie is about the Gwangju Democratization Movement, and the main character Jürgen Hinzpeter, who appeared in this film, attracted people’s attention. Though he was a reporter from Germany, he shared the anger and sorrow with Gwangju citizens like other Koreans.
His life as a journalist started in 1963 with him becoming a cameraman at ARD-NDR’s Hamburg office. His relationship with Korea began when he was sent as a special correspondent to Japan. He interviewed Kim Yeong-sam to uncover the situation under the rule of the Park Chung-hee regime. Then, on May 19th, 1980, he was told about the incident of Gwangju and headed Gwangju there himself. The image of Gwangju in his camera from May 20th over a period of 2 days, was simply horrendous. He took pictures of a group of soldiers in front of the Gwangju Provincial Government Building and the scene of citizens armed against illegal military violence. Then, on May 22nd, he hid the tapes in a box of snacks and send it overseas, and finally let the world know about the dire realities of Gwangju and Korea. He decided not to give up, and then returned to Gwangju on May 23rd. In September of 1980, he made a documentary called "South Korea at Crossroads" and informed the whole world about the reality in Korea.
Many images taken by Hinzpeter were the most objective data that contradicted the claims of the soldiers arguing that an unknown mob seized Gwangju. Hinzpeter’s true report was a ray of hope for the citizens of Gwangju. In 2003, he received the spotlight again being awarded the Song Kun-ho journalism award in 2003. As he had suffered from heart disease, he was known to have made a will that he wanted to be buried in Gwangju, so we can feel his affection for Gwangju.
He stood between life and death caused by his heart disease in 2004, soon recovered but unfortunately passed away in 2016 after spending the rest of his life. He recalled 1980. “It will not be meaningful if the image is only in my head.” The tenacity of Hinzpeter finally contributed to spreading truths throughout the world. CAH is grateful for the passion of Jürgen Hinzpeter, who made a sacrifice for Korea’s democracy.
< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >