Thursday, May 12, 2005

Korean minister responsible for investigating 1980s atrocities resigns because implicated in 1980s atrocities

I'm still catching up with news stories from the last week or so.

The Korea Herald reported on 5th May that:

Vice Defense Minister Yoo Hyo-il has resigned amid controversy over his alleged role in the brutal military crackdown on the 1980 Gwangju civic uprising.


Civic groups called on Yoo to resign raising allegations about his role in the so-called Gwangju massacre and military operations against pro-democracy activists in the 1980s.

Yoo was a battalion commander of the 20th infantry division, which was sent to Gwangju to suppress the armed civilian revolt against a military coup by major general Chun Doo-hwan, who later became president.

The government estimates more than 200 civilians were killed during the uprising. Unofficial figures put the death toll at more than 2,000.

Yoo is also alleged to have engaged in the Chun government's forceful conscription of leaders of student activism from 1981-83. An estimated 11,000 students were forced to serve in the military and suffered torture and other forms of abuse.

Yoo's past is particularly problematic because:

Yoo heads the [defence] ministry's fact-finding panel mandated to look into military wrongdoings and suspicious deaths under past authoritarian governments.

He made the decision [to resign] after [President] Roh [Moo-hyun] last Thursday urged the ministry to make more efforts to shed light on the military's wrongdoing.

Read the complete article

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