중앙데일리

Gwangju records released for all

May 19,2007
Soldiers arrest Gwangju citizens defying the military regime on May 18, 1980 during the democracy uprising. [JoongAng Ilbo]
On the anniversary of the event, the Ministry of Administration and Home Affairs yesterday released for the first time comprehensive and detailed official data on the Gwangju uprising in 1980, the bloodiest chapter in the nation’s modern push for democracy.
The National Archives and Records Service, which is under the ministry, opened its database to the public to mark the 27th anniversary of the beginning of the uprising. The material was compiled in 70 volumes published by the city of Gwangju and includes official documents by the security forces then reporting the situation to their superiors.
The contents of the books are also available at:
http://contents.archives.go.kr
In addition, there are detailed records of the increasing death toll during the 10 day uprising as government security forces cracked down on the movement.
The documents give a rare picture of the situation and the role played by various government agencies at the time. There has never been agreement on the number of deaths during the incident and activists have long claimed that the official figure of about 160 dead was an underestimate.
The uprising was sparked by citizens of Gwangju demanding wider democracy and opposing martial law measures that had been extended across the entire country. While the government at the time was nominally headed by President Choi Kyu-hah, the real power was wielded by Chun Doo Hwan, who took control of the military after the assasination of Park Chung Hee in 1979. Chun became president in 1981.
South Korea elected its first non-military president in 1993, when Kim Young-sam took office. Chun and his successor Roh Tae Woo, both former generals, were convicted of treason and mutiny in 1996 and served time in prison before being pardoned by President Kim Dae-jung.


by Brian Lee Staff Writerafricanu@joongang.co.kr



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