페이지 정보작성자 편집국 작성일17-12-11 13:33 댓글0건
Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(6)
V. Analysis of Verified Cases(2)
Analysis of Verified Case(2)
The massacre cases examined by the Commission can be categorized into the following: mass killing after preventive detention, the Bodo League Incidents, executions of political prisoners, military and police suppression and killing of alleged North Korean People’s Army collaborators, the Yeosu-Suncheon case, and deaths by the United States forces’ bombings. The classification is based on similarities that can be seen among the offenders, the characters of victims, and the origins of the wartime atrocities.
These incidents represent the typical types of massacres that occurred following the Korean War. In the case of killings on alleged North Korean People’s Army collaborators, the incidents occurred throughout the Korean War period and involved mass killings, as well as individual executions that were conducted as a way of military and police operations.
Major controversial issues
Criteria for confirming the identity of victims
In the course of verifying massacres, the basic objective to consider is the method of confirming the identities of the victims. This can be a critical issue to address as it will ultimately lead to the identification of the victims of the massacres and the determination of the legitimacy of the wartime killings. Decades have passed since such massacres transpired, and except for close relatives of the victims, few witnesses, due to their age, are capable of providing an objective testimony of the harm inflicted upon the victims. Therefore, it is often quite difficult to secure any reliable statements from witnesses and confirm the actual course of events.
Identity confirmation of victims who petitioned for truth verification has been conducted in two ways. First, for the cases where there are official government records that can corroborate the harm done to the subjects of the investigations or for cases where there exists any statement issued by a third party witness except for relatives, or where remains or corpses are retrieved directly, the identities of victims are confirmed after a specific procedure of verification. Second, for cases involving only the petitioner’s account or the relatives’ testimony, the damages inflicted on the victims are acknowledged but regarded only as an "assumption" since the cases cannot be verified.
The petitioners claim that the government should be held accountable for truth verification since it is impossible for them to find any records or evidence that can objectively confirm the contents of the petitions or the wrongdoings inflicted upon the victims. Having limited access to government archives, the Commission is attempting to complete the careful review of petitions and confirm the identities of wartime victims in order to conduct a fair and reliable investigation and verification.
The number of victims and the scope of their sacrifices
Upon reviewing the petitions submitted to the Commission, the number of victims of an incident initially tallied by the Commission is substantially lower than estimates by
academia, the bereaved families, and civic groups. In the course of actual investigations, it was found that some bereaved families did not file a petition for truth verification, which indicates there could be more victims than tallied. Due to this, a criteria needs to be established in calculating the number of total victims and identifying the scope of the damage during investigations and report writing. The bereaved families and NGOs have been especially interested in this matter.
To ascertain the number of victims and the scope of the harm inflicted on them as accurately as possible, a long term investigation was needed. It was nearly impossible however to determine the exact number of victims in these massacres since the events occurred long time ago. Therefore, the Commission announced the number of victims by declaring individual names one by one for those with official state records. Without the relevant records or documents, the testimonies of witnesses were used to estimate the number of victims.
There are few testimonies, evidence, or official government statistics that can help substantiate the number of victims and the scope of damages. The Commission has had no choice but to quote the research results by civil organizations. In reality, it is still quite controversial however for the Commission in officially using the findings from these research results.
The extent of truth verification and the accountability of the government
The most difficult issue in verifying the mass killings of civilians during wartime is to determine the amount of responsibility for such incidents. This is a considerably serious issue as it is related to the scope of accountability held by the government, and the Commission has no power or authority to punish perpetrators. It is historically significant for the sake of preventing any future occurrences where the government or perpetrators should wield its power arbitrarily against its citizens.
In most truth verification cases, the government was found accountable for the harm inflicted on the victims, but the extent of confirmed damages varies from incident to incident. Government culpability can also vary due to a lack of official records that can confirm that the government actually issued orders or instructions for the killings, and if any do exist, the documentation is limited. For this reason, most investigations rely on the statements of witnesses, but most key commanders have died, or even if they are alive, they refuse to offer any testimony. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to acquire recognition regarding damage committed by the perpetrators. To compensate for this, many truth-seeking investigations focus on witness accounts to examine the intermediary chain of command and order.
The stage of verification level of past wrong-doings would determines the content, the extent of future recommendations, and the scope of government or individual accountability. Therefore, when determining who is legally and politically accountable, the initial difficulty the Commission confronts is acquiring reliable sources of information from competent government agencies or from the U.S. records and key witnesses.
Determining whether the incidents were accidental or intentional
According to the Framework Act established by the Commission, the scope of truth verification covers incidents where there were "illegal" mass when executions of civilians orchestrated by the government. Individual killings that occurred accidentally
and randomly before and after the Korean War are not subject to truth verification. For instance, the Commission dismissed cases involving death due to United States forces’ accidental bombings and general deaths caused by accidents during military and police war operations.
For civilian deaths caused by U.S. forces’ bombings and military and police operations however, it is very difficult to determine whether such incidents were accidental, intentional, or organized beforehand without examining official records related to the wrongdoing and critical accounts from witnesses. The illegitimacy of such operations is generally concluded based upon standardized international wartime regulations and positive law from home and abroad.
The Commission decided that for aerial bombing incidents by U.S. forces, such as those conducted at Gokgyegul Cave in Danyang and on Incheon Wolmi Island, the U.S. forces should be held accountable for failing to consider that civilians en masse could possibly be victimized even if such bombing operations were found to be necessary for military purposes. If "the logic and intention" of the military are defined too narrowly, as was the case in the American's Nogeunri Report in 2001, the offenders will often be granted immunity.
The Characteristics and Issues Regarding Key Incidents
Systematic preventive detention orders following the Korean War
The Commission found that following the Korean War, the government practiced "preventive detention" against the so-called "impure elements", or the alleged converted leftist across the nation, and then executed them en masse. Preventive detention has been known to be typically practiced in massacre incidents. In particular, preventive detention cases suggest that summary executions were planned and preceded beforehand, executed across the nation as a whole, and occurred simultaneously, but to date, this has not been properly discussed in Korea.
As a result of the close examination into the Jeju April 3rd Uprising Case, it was discovered that the Syngman Rhee government issued orders to illegally arrest or execute a considerable number of people based on allegations rather than going through proper judicial procedures. As soon as the Korean War began on June 25, 1950, the National Bureau of Public Order of the Ministry of Home Affairs issued instructions to all police bureaus nationwide, including the Jeju Police Bureau, to systematically implement preventive detention, and the proceedings thereof were often reported.
The Korean government arrested and later executed the so-called "impure elements" or "alleged leftists" due to fear of their possible collusion with the North Korean People’s Army. It was found however that the Korean government based arrests of alleged collaborators on arbitrary criteria and executed most people based only on allegations or suspicions. In particular, the Jeju District Martial Law Headquarters illegally declared martial law before the central government officially declared it and supervised preventive detention in Jeju. The Jeju District Martial Law Headquarters were directly followed by the arrest, release, or summary execution of detainees.
Retaliation against alleged collaborators
After the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950, the North Korean People’s
Army crossed the 38th parallel and advanced southward near the Nakdong River. The Korean government with the help of United Nations forces who landed at Incheon on September 5, 1950 eventually regained control of the Southern territory under the 38th parallel. The reclamation of Seoul took place on Sept. 28, 1950. After which, the most significant task before the Korean government was deciding what to do with the alleged collaborators of the North.
After the UN forces’ Incheon Landing Operation and the North Korean People’s Army’s retreat, there were several cases of the military, police, and rightist youth organizations illegally killing or retaliating against the collaborators. In the process, a number of civilians were killed en masse throughout the nation. This was a typical type of massacre orchestrated by the Korean government after the Korean War.
There are some similarities among the alleged collaboration-related massacres. First, most victims, although some could have been collaborators during the occupation of the North Korean Army, were illegally executed without clear legal grounds or criteria. Instead, police and right-wing paramilitary groups may have acted on allegations or suspicions without following proper judicial procedures. Second, there were instances of people who retaliated due to personal disputes or vendettas. The Korean government or rightist youth organizations exploited the execution of accused collaborators to resolve personal feuds, which evinces that alleged collaborators were punished in an illegitimate and arbitrary manner without a clear policy established by the government. As the situation worsened, the Korean government released several statements and enacted the "Pro-Communist Punishment Law" and the "Execution Inhibition Law". In this regard, the Korean government should be held accountable for failing to protect its people and in some cases for aiding and abetting government agencies and private organizations in inflicting abuse against alleged pro-communists.
The killings of civilians during the rooting-out of communist guerrillas
Following the Korean War, guerilla operations arose in the mountainous regions and threatened public order. The success of the Inchon Landing Operation prevented travel to the North, and North Korean detachments in South Korea were unable to return to the North even after the signing of the armistice. They then engaged in guerilla warfare in the South Korean mountains. In response, the Korean government mobilized the military and police to suppress the communist guerrillas. The Korean government responded with a massive operation to subjugate them. In September 1950, the 11th Division of the Korean Army was established exactly for the purpose of suppressing communist guerrillas in the southern areas of the Korean Peninsula, such as in South Gyeongsang, Jeonnam, and Jeonbuk Provinces. Civilians were killed en masse as the military and police conducted scorched-earth policy operations to eliminate the communist guerrillas.
The incidents investigated by the Commission involved mass killings of villagers accused of collaborating with guerrillas. While the villagers may have collaborated, they only did so by providing accommodations and meals or transporting baggage, which was necessary to avoid being killed by guerrillas. At that time, villagers who lived in the same mountainous regions as the guerrillas were hiding in had little choice but to cooperate with the Korean Army during the day and with the North Korean Army at night.
At that time, the Korean government, military, and police issued orders to differentiate between the communists, communist collaborators, and villagers, but mass
killing operations were conducting according to only allegations and suspicions. As a result, villages were destroyed and civilians were executed on allegations of cooperating with communists. This suggests that the ROK Army only focused on operational efficiency and convenience as they tried to suppress the remnants of the North Korean People’s Army. The death of so many innocent villagers during the operation indicates the indifference or negligence that the South Korean soldiers and police had towards the lives of civilians.
The killings of civilians by U.S. bombings
Following the start of the Korean War, the U.S. army, navy, and air force participated as members of the United Nations forces and dominated the operation order. In particular, from the beginning, the U.S. Air Force controlled the air command.
Most South Korean civilian deaths associated with U.S. bombings occurred in the process of aerial bombardment. As the Commission verified, the U.S. Air Force bombings at Wolmi Island was in support of the Incheon Landing Operation of the UN forces. On the other hand, the U.S. Air Force bombings at Danyang Gokgaegul Cave and Sanseong-dong, Yecheon occurred while the U.S. Air Force attempted to prevent the North Korean People’s Army from advancing south.
Even if massacres related to U.S. Forces transpired in the course of legitimate military operations, it is difficult to regard them as mere wartime usual accidents. The fact that aerial bombings continued to produce civilian deaths suggests that the U.S. Forces did not properly plan for the operations.
It is evident that in the course of planning for the aerial bombing operations, the
U.S. Air Force sometimes failed to take into consideration the innocent civilians in the targeted areas. Mass killings by U.S. forces aerial bombings occurred mostly when the UN and Korean forces advanced north immediately after the outbreak of the Korean War in July and August 1950 with the Incheon Landing Operation, and during the retreat, when the North Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army advanced south after the January 4th Retreat of 1951.
The U.S. Air Force aerial bombings in South Korea were concentrated in areas densely populated with civilians. Considering this, the U.S. Army should have as a precondition distinguished civilians from the North Korean People’s Army in the process of conducting reconnaissance operations and selecting bombing targets. The U.S. Air Force however engaged in indiscriminate bombing of the selected points and at low altitudes, with clear visibility of the ground, opened fire on innocent villagers. As a result, many civilians, including women and children, were sacrificed.
The nationwide of the Bodo League incidents
Immediately after the start of the Korean War, between the end of June and the beginning of July 1950, the Korean government arrested, detained, and executed members of the Bodo League. The year prior, in June 1949, the Korean government organized the Bodo League with the intention of encouraging those associated with the leftists to turn themselves in so that they could be loyal ROK citizens. Around 300,000 people across the nation applied for membership at this time. The Korean government set a target quota for recruitment in each region, which led to many people applying for membership without ever having had any relations with leftists or leftist activities. With the start of the Korean War however, the government began arresting and killing Bodo
League members, fearing that they may collaborate with the North.
The Bodo League massacres were the largest mass killings during the Korean War period. Most of the Bodo League massacres occurred simultaneously across the nation. According to the Commission’s investigation result to date, each incident seemed similar in terms of the procedures and the chain of command. For this reason, the Commission investigated the massacres to determine whether the government was involved in the systematic and intentional massacre of civilians. The scale, planning, and organization of the massacres reveal the Korean government’s systematic policy to remove Bodo League members, potential enemies' life.
Suppression of the Yeosu-Suncheon Uprising and summary execution of suspected civilians
The civilians of the Yeosu-Suncheon Incident were executed during the 14th Regiment’s uprising and the Korean military’s subsequent crackdown. The Yeosu-Suncheon Incident differs from other massacres in several aspects. The damages extended beyond the civilians of Yeosu and Suncheon and affected the eastern part of the Jeonnam Province and areas around the Jiri Mountain. In addition, the affected locations were not limited to specific places but scattered across areas that involved military and police operations in suppressing communist guerrillas.
South Korean soldiers stationed in the Yeosu and Suncheon region initiated the Yeosu-Suncheon Incident on October 19, 1948. This event became a catalyst for the enactment of the National Security Law and the establishment of the anti-communist regime in the Republic of Korea. It was also a prototype of all massacres during the Korean War period. In the course of the Korean army’s operations, rebels belonging to the 14th Division and many civilians suspected of being rebel collaborators were targeted and killed. Many civilians were imprisoned by the military or police and later executed en masse after the start of the Korean War. Rebels or leftists guerrillas as well executed some civilians.
In this case, the grounds upon which the military and the police murdered civilians en masse was commonly called the "summary execution right" under martial law. Since the South Korean government was newly established at the time, the martial law had no legal foundation, and there were no laws or regulations in Korea at the time to support the legitimacy of martial law.
Under such 'martial law', the military and the police illegally tortured and killed civilians. In particular, the military and the police abused the "summary execution right" under the martial law, which has no legal foundation and did not justify the execution of civilians. As a result, many civilians were killed in the Yeosu-Suncheon Incident on allegations that they were cooperating with the rebels. Their executions did not involve any judicial proceedings and demonstrates that the term "summary executions" really meant 'massacres'.
Main Verified Cases
Massacres in the Geoje Region – Verified on November 25, 2008
The Commission found that from March to May 1949, at least 38 people were massacred by South Korean soldiers and police after being accused of collaborating with
North Korean soldiers. The Commission conducted interviews with perpetrators, survivors, and witnesses and reviewed various relevant records in order to verify the facts.
The Commission found that before the executions occurred, the victims were beaten and tortured by the perpetrators. Some of the victims were publicly executed in front of other villagers. It was also reported that the perpetrators killed innocent family members of suspects and executed individuals with the same name without properly verifying their identities. The Commission identified 38 victims, although it is assumed that the number of victims is higher. Thirty-five out of 38 of the victims’ ages ranged from 20 to 30 years old, and the remaining three victims were women or in their teens. Most of the victims were either farmers or fishermen who provided food and assistance to red guerillas under the threat of death. Regardless of the villagers' predicament, the perpetrators accused them of collaborating with communists and proceeded to torture and execute the victims. The Commission recommended that the government offer an official apology, provide peace and human rights education to soldiers, police officers, and civil servants, and support memorial services on behalf of the victims.
Gwangju Massacres – Verified on November 25, 2008
The Commission found that from February 1949 to October 1951, South Korean police illegally massacred dozens of civilians in Gwangju, Jeonnam Provinceon on charges of collaborating with communists. In order to verify the facts, the Commission reviewed relevant police and army records as well as conducted interviews on the survivors and witnesses.
The Gwangju civilians residing in an area active with communist partisans were treated by the police as either communist collaborators or suspects and were therefore executed based on such accusations. Some of the incidents of police killings include: Suspected communist collaborators killed after being severely tortured; three civilians involved in a social gathering killed after being charged with failing to report their “meeting” to the police and army; a physically disabled civilian killed after arriving late for roll call; people killed for supplying food to suspected communist collaborators; and village leaders killed after being accused of communist collaboration.
The Commission identified 23 victims, most of whom were unarmed farmers. The police based their justification for execution on suspicions of communist collaboration rather than following proper judicial procedures.
The Commission recommended that the government offer an official apology, provide peace and human rights education for the police, and support memorial services on behalf of the victims.
Cheongwon Bodo League Incidents – Verified on November 4, 2008
The Commission found that from early to mid July 1950, South Korean police and the Counter-intelligence Corps (CIC) massacred members of the Bodo League in the Cheongwon region. Beginning in late June 1950, the police imprisoned Bodo League members throughout the Cheongwon region. Then, in the following month, the imprisoned members were executed at over eight different sites. In relation to these incidents, the Commission reviewed various reports and conducted on-site investigations.
During the massacres, at least 232 civilians were killed, but the Commission could only identify 165 victims. The identified victims’ age ranged from 20 to 30 years
old. In Cheongwon County, the Commission exhumed 332 remains, 235 bullets, and 300 other victim-related articles. At the time of the exhumation, the victims’ were found to have been arranged in a line with their hands bound and forced to kneel. Some remains showed bullet holes or fragments.
On July 10, 1950, a victim managed to survive the incident. She was present at the killing field with her husband and other Bodo League members before being shot by South Korean soldiers. While the others died, she only lost consciousness. The Commission recommended that the government offer an official apology; provide peace and human rights education for soldiers, police, and civil servants; support memorial services on behalf of the victims, amend the Family Registry, and provide permanent facilities to preserve the victims’ exhumed remains.
Massacre at Yeongdeok, Jipum-myeon - Verified on November 4, 2008
The Commission found that from December 1949 to January 1950, South Korean soldiers executed unarmed civilians without due process at Yoengdeok Jipum-myeon. The Commission reviewed various reports, including the Special Committee Report of the National Assembly on massacres and the G-2 Periodic Report of the Korean Military Advisory Group of the US Army, and conducted on-site investigations and acquired testimonies from petitioners and reference witnesses.
The Commission concluded that between December 1949 and January 1950, South Korean soldiers tortured and killed civilians en masse based on the suspicions that they were collaborating with communist guerillas in the region. The Commission identified at least 34 victims and found that the majority of them were farmers and their ages ranged from 20 to 40 years old. Communist partisans forced the civilians to supply food which may have lead South Korean soldiers to assume that they were collaborators rather than victims of coercion. However, instead of formally charging the civilians, the soldiers responded with executions.
The Commission recommended that the government offer an official apology, provide peace and human rights education to police and civil servants, and support memorial services on behalf of the victims.
The Massacres at Naju Dado-myeon - Verified on October 21, 2008
The Commission found that from July 1950 to May 1951, in Naju Dado-myeon, South Korean soldiers indiscriminately killed innocent civilians while subduing red guerrillas. The Commission verified the identities of 133 unarmed civilian victims, which included women, children and the elderly.
According to a daily police report at the time, the police claimed to have killed 'communists' while engaged in a skirmish. According to statements of witnesses and references however, the soldiers and police force massacred unarmed civilians. Having reviewed all available information and data, the Commission concluded that the soldiers and police indeed killed innocent civilians. In particular, it found that the survivors of the massacres still suffer from psychological trauma and physical injury. The Commission recommended that the government offer an official apology, support memorial work for the victims, document the findings in historical records, provide medical treatment for injured survivors, and strengthen peace and human rights education.
The Massacres in the Namwon Region - Verified on October 21, 2008
The Commission verified that from December 1950 to March 1951, South Korean soldiers and police ignored proper judicial procedures as they massacred civilians in the Namwon region while subduing Red guerrillas. The Commission interviewed survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators of the massacre. The Commission also examined documents at the Ministry of Defense and Army Headquarters.
By reviewing Korean War records of the Army Headquarters, the Commission found that according to these reports, South Korean soldiers were involved in subduing Red guerrillas in the Namwon region from the end of 1950 to the beginning of 1951. After having heard the statements of the survivors and witnesses however, the Commission confirmed that most of those killed were actually innocent civilians rather than Red guerrillas.
The Commission verified that the South Korean soldiers and police indiscriminately killed innocent civilians, including women, children, and the elderly. It identified 90 victims. The Commission recommended that the government offer an official apology, provide support for memorial work, and promote peace and human rights education for soldiers and police.
The Massacres at Gimpo - Verified on October 7, 2008
The Commission verified that from September 28, 1950, to January 4, 1951, Gimpo residents were accused of collaborating with communists before being massacred by the South Korean police. The commission estimated that during this period the police killed more than 600 civilians, including women and children, but the Commission was only able to identify 110 victims. The commission recommended that the government offer an official apology, provide support for memorial work, promote peace and human rights education, and take relevant measures to permanently preserve the remains of victims by giving them a proper burial and honoring their memory.
The Massacres at Haenam County - Verified on July 8, 2008
One hundred twenty-three petitioners filed for truth verification for several massacres conducted by the South Korean police and right-wing groups in Haenam County from August 15, 1948 to the Korean War period (1950-1953). The petitioners claimed that the victims were accused of being communists or communist collaborators, which led to their execution without trial. The Commission verified that 159 innocent civilians were killed by the South Korean police and right-wing groups. The commission recommended that the government offer an apology, conduct memorial services for the victims, amend the relevant records, and promote peace and human rights education.
The Massacres at Cheongdo - Verified on July 8, 2008
Twenty-eight petitioners filed for truth verification for several massacres conducted by South Korean soldiers at the Cheongdo and Gyeongsan cobalt mines from February 1949 to February 1951. The Commission verified that 132 civilians were killed.
Gurye Massacre after the Yeosun Incident - Verified on July 8, 2008
The Commission ascertained that between late October 1948 and July 1949 in Gurye, shortly after the Yeosun Incident, a large number of civilians were extra-judicially killed and sacrificed as South Korean troops and police forces conducted military operations to subdue communist rebellion forces. The mass killings in the Gurye region
are considered separate from the Yeosun Incident.
Approximately 800 civilians were massacred, among which, but only 165 victims were identified after going over various historical records stored in Korea’s National Archives, Historical Records of Subjugating Communist Insurgents in the South Korean Army Headquarters (1954) and statements from witnesses and field research.
The South Korean troops and police forces captured, tortured, and executed civilians accused of collaborating with local leftists or rebellion forces. It has been verified that villages located near insurgent bases were incinerated and the residents accused of collaboration before being executed during the "clean-up" operation of communist insurgents. A series of these mass killings occurred between late October 1948 and early 1949 near Gurye when the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 3rd Regiment of the South Korean army were based in the region.
Gurye Police Office detained civilians suspected of collaborating with local communist partisans and commonly tortured their captives before executing them and concealing their bodies in nearby areas or on Mt. Bongseong. The members of the Korean Youth Association in Gurye also directly or indirectly abetted these systematic operations of mass killings by providing sometimes groundless accusations and supporting the extermination of those affiliated with communist guerrillas or local leftists.
The Korean Youth Association in Gurye mostly assisted with the removal and burial of bodies after the executions. A typical accusation they made against victims would allege that the victim joined a left-leaning organization such as the Socialist Labor Party in South Korea. Other accusations that resulted in death were as minor as the victim having resided near areas targeted by the military or being related to suspected victims.
The South Korean troops and police forces commonly conducted indiscriminate arrests, detention, or imprisonment. They also tortured and summarily executed people without adequate confirmation procedures or legitimate judicial processes. The proclaimed martial law at the time was not supported by any legality, and thus the administrative and judicial authorities of the chief commander under martial law were subject to revocation.
Furthermore, the administrative and judicial authority given during the proclaimed martial law were arbitrarily interpreted and implemented by regional chiefs, thereby increasing the number of civilian casualties. Even if the martial law were legitimate, the principle of non-combatant immunity was often neglected.
Perpetrators often practiced a type of extra-judicial punishment in conducting summary executions. This was often misunderstood to be a given right that allowed them to arbitrarily kill civilians. Even with martial law, summary executions should abide by military regulations. Thus, massacres by the South’s authorities could not be justified in any way.
The Commission found that the killing of innocent civilians by the public authorities in Yeosu and Suncheon greatly transgressed the constitutional legality given to the military and police force at the time. They failed their sacred obligations of protecting the lives and property of civilians. Hereby, the Commission advised the government to officially apologize to the bereaved families of the victims, restore the honor of the dead, revise the historical records in accordance with the findings, and reinforce education on sustaining peace.
Ganghwa Case of Civilian Executions - July 8, 2008
The Commission concluded that the Ganghwa Regional Self-defense Forces accused and killed 139 civilians residing in the Ganghwa, Seokmo, and Jumun island areas around the time of the January 4, 1951 retreat (1.4 Retreat). Details of the executions began to surface when a group of residents in Ganghwa registered their deceased family members as victims under the Korean War Veteran Memorial Law. During the registration period, details about the victims, as well as perpetrators, emerged and revealed enough information to speculate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
At the time of the massacre, the Ganghwa Regional Self-defense Forces assumed that if North Korean troops occupied the region, those with left-leaning tendencies and their families would collaborate with the North. Therefore, preemptively eliminating the accused was thought of as a strategically beneficial objective. A chain of similar mass killings occurred in 12 different townships in the Ganghwa, Seokmo, and Jumun island areas. The mass executions administered after the 1.4 Retreat often occurred with deliberate neglect or abetting from the South Korean and U.S. forces.
At the time of the killings, the South Korean and U.S. forces were gathering intelligence on secret military tactics and the enemy’s strategic movements along the West Coast. In the course of their missions, they aided right-wing civil organizations, such as the Ganghwa Self-defense Forces, by providing combat equipment and supplies. These mass summary executions against civilians are considered by some to be a crime against humanity. The victims’ pain and suffering have been passed to their descendants who faced various forms of social discrimination and prejudice.
While direct responsibilities for the incidents may be directed at the respective civil organizations involved and its autonomous governing entities, the South Korean government must also be held accountable since they neglected their obligations to administer and control the regional authorities’ activities. The Commission found that the Ganghwa Self-defense Force, an organization beyond the control of any U.S. or South Korean authorities, was provided arms by the government. The arms were then used to assault civilians. The government's action of giving arms allowed for the deaths of innocent villagers.
After uncovering these findings, the Commission advised the government to officially apologize to the victims’ bereaved families, seek reconciliation between the victims and perpetrators, and arrange adequate emergency alternatives considering Ganghwa’s geographical circumstances.
Uljin Massacre - Verified on June 3, 2008
The Commission ascertained that at least 256 civilians were killed in Uljin, Gangwon Province after being accused of collaborating with local leftists. The incident occurred between September 26, 1950 and late December, 1950. A total of 256 victims were identified through thorough reviews of historical documents, testimonies from witnesses and petitioners, and records from the Uljin Police Station. Extensive field research was also conducted throughout the region. The perpetrators were identified as the Uljin Police, CIC, and the 3rd Army Division of South Korea.
On October 20, 1950, the 3rd Army’s reserve forces searched for villagers accused as being leftist. They based their hunt on lists of names submitted by local right-wing organizations and the village chiefs. Approximately 40 people accused of collaborating with the North, along with many others scheduled for execution, were confined at the Uljin Police Station and summarily executed or buried alive in the Budul
Between October and November 1950, the Uljin Police Office released some of the prisoners transferred from subordinate police branches in the region, but approximately 250 of the remaining prisoners were segregated for summary execution. They were killed and buried in the Olsi Valley, Shinrim. On November 26, 1950, officers from the Onjeong Police Branch shot and killed 12 captives en route to the Uljin Police Office.
In the late fall of 1950, several local villagers were indicted of offering food to their relatives who were seeking refuge after having been accused of treachery. The villagers were executed in a valley in Sagye-ri, Buk-myeon by officers from the Hadang Police Branch. According to the Commission, a total of 256 identified victims, including many innocent civilians, were massacred in a series of mass killings conducted by the 3rd Army’s reserve forces and the South Korean local police forces. The victimized villagers were blamed for holding certain positions during North Korea’s occupation over the region or for registering with organizations considered traitorous.
However, most of the accusations were fomented rather spontaneously and the victims’ charges were summarily administered by the public authorities of South Korea. At the time of the incidents, many voluntary North Korean collaborators had already escaped and crossed the border to the North once the South seized the area, and thus, the civilians who impulsively or involuntarily joined the local leftists became victims. The Commission also found cases where villagers were charged with irrelevant accusations.
These summary executions committed against mass amounts of civilians are considered by many to be a crime against humanity. The victims’ pain and suffering were subsequently passed down to their descendants who faced various forms of social discrimination and prejudice. After uncovering such findings, the Commission advised the government to officially apologize to the bereaved families of the victims, conduct adequate human rights education, and hold memorial services for those who were wrongfully prosecuted and murdered.
U.S. Force’s Bombing of Gokgyegul Cave in Danyang - Verified May 20, 2008 Fifty-three petitioners submitted a petition for truth verification for the U.S. Air Force’s Bombing Incident of Gokgyegul Cave in Sang-ri, Yeongchun-myeon, Danyang-gun in North Chungcheong Province. The event occurred on January 20, 1951, during the Korean War. Even though there were not any North Korea soldiers in the area, as insisted by the petitioners, the U.S. Air Force bombed a cave sheltering a group of civilians, as well as strafed them as they tried to escape from the bombing. The bereaved families requested for 1) the appeasement of the spirits of the deceased through truth verification, and 2) positive efforts by the Korean and U.S. governments on
problem-solving, proper reparation, and compensation.
* Refugee Control and Bombing of the Cave and Civilian Mass Victimization
On January 3, 1951, the day before the withdrawal from Seoul, at the internal meeting of 8th U.S. Army, Lieutenant General Ridgway authorized the Chief Commander of I Corps and IX Corps to block refugee movements. This authorization included the right to fire on civilians ignoring the refugee control order and to request air strikes. Lieutenant General Ridgeway then informed the South Korean army of this decision.
Due to the use of the representative coordinates on Mosquito Mission Reports
(MMR) however, a detailed record regarding the bombing of the cave was never recorded, but on the U.S. Army G-3 Journals and S-3 Journals of January 20, the attack had been clearly stated. Most people in the cave suffered burns and suffocated to death due to the use of napalm bombs. Others, who barely escaped from the cave, were killed or wounded by aircraft strafing. Although the eyewitnesses testified that the U.S. forces visited the cave and investigated the results of the bombing and mass civilian victimization, no follow-up measures were taken.
* Numbers and Characteristics of Victims and Responsibility of the U.S. Army
The total number of victims of this incident is estimated to be over 200 with 167 of them identified. The rate of juvenile victims under the age of 19 is considerably high at 62%. The number of female victims exceeds the number of male victims.
This incident involved a large number of non-combatant civilians being killed by
U.S. bombing operations. Pursuant to the International Humanitarian Law, U.S. forces had violated three responsibilities at that time: ① U.S. forces did not conduct any complementary measures to protect the refugees affected by the blockade. ② Especially knowing that there were large numbers of refugees in the area, U.S. forces should have decided whether to bomb the cave only after conducting proper reconnaissance verifying that the people in the cave were indeed NKPA soldiers. ③ U.S. force’s bombing operations and incinerations in the vicinity of the cave and Yongchun-myeon, Danyang-gun indicate indiscriminating bombing beyond the boundary of the operation and without proper regard for the refugees in the area.
Namyangju Suspicion of Treachery Case - Verified on May 6, 2008
From October to December 1950, police and security forces, later reorganized as the local defense force, massacred at least 118 Jinjeop residents, including their family members, on charges of treachery. In early October 1950, when the South Korean army reclaimed the Namyangju region, Yangju and Jinjeop police officers, along with Jinjeop security police, detained approximately 200 people, including the family members of those suspected of treachery during the North Korean occupation. The victims were relocated to the township office storehouse and executed.
In the middle of December 1950, shortly before the retreat of the South Korean army on January 4, 1951, the police and security forces executed 260 civilians suspected of collaborating with the North Korean Army during their occupation of the region. Following a recommendation order from the Gyeonggi Provincial Police, the police and security forces secretly buried the bodies. This massacre differs from the October massacre in that it occurred before the South Korean army retreat in December and many of the victims were women, children, and the elderly.
Based on the materials and statements related to the case, the Commission estimates that there were more than 460 victims, including missing people and those who are unaccounted due to lack of identification by relatives after the families relocated. The Commission only identified 118 victims. The perpetrators were identified as the Jinjeop police, security force, and the local defense force commanded by the police. Considering that they massacred civilians without evidence and based their actions on presumptions that the victims would cooperate with the enemy, the actions of the perpetrators represent a crime against humanity.
At the end of December 1950, immediately after the massacre, local residents petitioned for a special investigation into the crime. In response, a South Korean
inspection team was assembled. Composed of military officials, prosecutors, and police officers, they interrogated the perpetrators. During this time, a document related to the case surfaced. This document specifically detailed the Gyeonggi Provincial Police order that led to the massacre and the immediate cover-up the followed.
The special inspection team’s investigation disregarded this, and instead concentrated its efforts on the testimonies of the perpetrators. Compared to the size of the case, the investigation was poorly conducted as evidenced by distortions in the perpetrators’ motives and the victims’ characteristics. As to whether the perpetrators stood trial and were punished, it remains unknown. The Commission recommends that the government officially apologize and provide support for memorial-related projects and work, and provide human rights education for the general public.
The Korean National 11th Army Division in the Gochang Region Case - Verified on April 8, 2008
The Commission's investigation results found that from December 1950 to March 1951, the Korean National 11th Army Division stationed in Jeonbuk Gochang region perpetrated mass executions of civilians while searching for communist guerrillas. The Commission identified 273 victims, although the total number is likely higher considering that some families did not file a petition, or were relocated, or killed.
The first incident occurred on December 22, 1950, as refugees moved from the Dongho-ri region to an area near the Simone-myeon Seashore. Upon encountering them, the 11th Army Division indiscriminately shot and killed 200-300 refugees. Another incident occurred on January 5, 1951 when the 11th Army Division, 6th Company pursued 150-200 refugees. After capturing the refugees, the soldiers bound each person with straw ropes before executing them with light machine gunfire. A day later, the 6th Company performed a house-to-house search in Sangha-myeon and executed twelve to sixteen local residents by shooting them in an open area next to Sangha Elementary School.
On March 13th, 1951, after a scouting soldier was killed near Sangha-myeon, the 11th Army Division killed approximately 50 local residents while searching for communist sympathizers. At the same time, near the Sangha-myeon Seashore, a group of civilians were killed by being indiscriminately fired upon by the 8th Company of the 11th Army Division.
At the time, the 11th Army Division justified these types of incidents by emphasizing the difficulty in distinguishing civilians from guerrillas. They reasoned that any dangerous threat must be eliminated and reasoned that mass executions prevented communist sympathizers from disrupting military objectives. It may have been necessary to place certain restrictions on people considering the instability of the situation at the time. As a whole, people's basic liberties were limited in order to guard against national security threats, and society was disorganized during the Korean army's reclamation process. On the contrary, the Korean army's mass execution of unarmed and non-resisting civilians without proper due process violated both international human rights and Korea's guaranteed constitutional rights.
When a nation deprives its citizens' of life, or punishes people by physically restraining them, a nation must abide by the law and have proper reason to conduct such actions. The perpetrators of this case failed to follow established legal standards. Therefore, the Commission recommended that there be an official government apology,
support for psychological counseling, and human rights education for soldiers and police officers.
Incheon Wolmi-do Bombing by the US Force - Verified on February 26, 2008
The Commission ascertained that the residents in Wolmi island (Wolmi-do) were killed on September 10, 1950, by U.S. bombing of the area. At least 10 victims were verified by the Commission to have been killed, but it is believe there were more victims killed. The bombing was executed by U.S. marine aircrafts of Carrier Division 15 led by Rear Admiral Richard W. Ruble.
The objective was to saturate the eastern half of Wolmi-do. The marine aircrafts (VMF-214, VMF-323) that launched from the USS SICILY and USS Badoeng Strait dropped 95 napalm bombs, rocketed and strafed the east side of Wolmi-do and thoroughly destroyed the area. Wolmi-do was a strategically important area for the Operation of Incheon Landing.
The saturation of Wolmi-do was executed in order to eliminate all possible threats which could negatively affect U.S. forces their planned fleet bombardment on the 13th and 14th of September, 1950. In preparation for fleet bombardment by naval ships, the
U.S. forces saturated the populated east side of Wolmi-do with napalm bombing, rocketing and strafing of houses and inhabitants.
There is a strong likelihood that U.S. forces were aware of the numerous civilians living in Wolmi-do, but there was no evidence that they took any cautionary action such as giving civilians prior warning or discriminating civilians areas to lessen the number of causalities. The weather was clear on the day of the bombing and one of the firing altitudes for the planes was only 100 ft. Civilian inhabitants and residental areas should no doubt have been visible. On the contrary, since early in the morning, the U.S. forces napalmed numerous small buildings and strafed children, women and the elderly in open areas. The devastation of Wolmi-do cannot be justified under the principle of discrimination or the principle of proportionality.
Ulsan Bodo League Massacre - Verified on November 27, 2007
Two hundred sixteen petitioners appealed for truth verification for several massacres, numbering over ten, which occurred in Ulsan throughout August 1950. According to the petitioners, over 870 innocent Bodo League members were killed by South Korean police. The Commission was able to verify the truth, but only 407 of the 870 victims were identified.
The Commission recommended to the government to restore the victims’ honor, offer an official apology, establish memorials for the victims, and revise historical and public records to reflect the new findings. It is also recommended that the government promote peace and human rights education programs and amend any relevant laws.
Goyang Massacre Incident - Verified on November 20, 2007
Four petitioners appealed for truth verification for 240 civilians massacred by right-wing groups at Goyang. These paramilitary groups, supported by the South Korean police, claimed that the victims were North Korean collaborators. After conducting the investigation, the Commission found that the right-wing groups illegally arrested and killed unarmed civilians. The Commission could verify the identities of only 26 of the 240 victims.
Killing of Civilians by the US Force Bombing: Sansung-dong, Yechon Bombing Incident - Verified on November 20, 2007
The Commission ascertained that at least 51 residents were killed at Sansung-dong, Yecheon due to U.S. Air Force bombing. It is stated in official military documents dated January 19, 1951 that the U.S. Air Force conducted three bombings with 18 fighter-bombers, including the F9F, F4U, and AD. The fighter-bombers dropped Napalm bombs over Sansung-dong and strafed houses and inhabitants in the area.
Although at that time North Korean forces were concentrated in the vicinity of Hakga Mountain, no enemy was present in Sansung-dong. Therefore misreading the coordinates is assumed as a possible reason for the attacks. According to the Mosquito Mission Report, "many people in white in area of DR 6457," yet at that time, most Korean civilians wore white clothes. Therefore, this could be offer another explanation for the bombings against the people of Sansung-dong.
The 'area bombing' policy for the elimination of the North Korean troops' possible shelter in this area seems to be not an indispensable strategy of military necessity. Due to these bombings, only the innocent civilians became victims, therefore it cannot be justified under the "Principle of Proportionality". Even according to the U.S. documents, North Korean soldiers were not present at Sansung-dong.
At the time of incident, Sansung-dong village was an "undefended village", pursuant to the positive law of Article 25 of The Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907) and the U.S. Army's Rules of Land Warfare. Also, according to the Draft Rules of Air Warfare (1923), it was not the military target. As reported by the villagers' recollections, there was prior warning of the bombing for the villagers. Therefore, the U.S. Air Force violated the "Principle of Precaution".
The U.S. Air Force was found not to have performed the "Principle of Distinction" in distinguishing between the South Korean unarmed civilians and North Korean soldiers. But the fact that the U.S. Air Force regarded any person in white as a suspicious enemy violated "the Principle of Presumption of civilian character in case of doubt".
A considerable number of bombing victims were also women and children who should be persons specially protected by the 4th Geneva Convention (1949) and should have been distinguished by air patrols as reported in other patrol mission reports. In order to justify a bombing, the target must be specified. Even then, the specified target should verified as a military target. Even if it is a military facility, considerations still must be given as to whether any civilians dwell in the area or not. In the case of the Sansung-dong bombings however, the U.S. Air Force conducted indiscriminate area bombing, violating the "Principle of Discrimination".
(to be continued)
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