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Roh mourns victims of 1947 uprising

In Jeju, he calls for more work to clear history

Apr 03,2006

President Roh at the memorial service in Jeju yesterday. [YONHAP]

President Roh Moo-hyun paid a symbolic visit to Jeju, Korea’s southern island province, yesterday to attend a memorial ceremony for residents there killed in government military and paramilitary operations to root out a communist insurgency.
The trip was part of his campaign to correct what he considers distortions of Korea’s history both at the hands of the Japanese colonial government and the strongman regimes that followed independence in 1945.
“Be it proud or shameful, history must be cleared up and settled,” Mr. Roh said. “In particular, the wrongdoings committed by the state must certainly be revealed.”
He was addressing a crowd of 10,000 people who gathered for the ceremony, including family members of some of those killed.
The “April 3 Jeju incident,” as it is known here, was an uprising on the island that began on that date in 1947 and was not suppressed until 1954. President Syngman Rhee, Korea’s first president, had the support of the U.S. occupation forces in his decision to establish a Korean administration in the southern half of the peninsula after efforts to reunify the country broke down.
Korea’s northern half was occupied by Russian forces and the south by American. There were many communist sympathizers in the south at the time, many on Jeju, who opposed Mr. Rhee’s plans. On March 1, 1947, the police fired into a crowd of protesters on Jeju, killing six. That incident triggered a wider insurgency, pitting the communist guerrilla groups against the police, the army and armed government sympathizers.
More than 14,000 persons on the island were allegedly killed, including many who took no part in the insurrection. A government commission is still trying to sort out the facts; the government acknowledged committing some atrocities in a law approved in 2000; Mr. Roh offered an official apology in 2003.


by Chun Su-jin


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