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작성자 편집국 작성일17-12-15 10:45 댓글0건


Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(9)


VI. Major Achievements and Further Agendas(1)






VI. Major Achievements and Further Agendas(1)


Major Achievements 




For the past three years, the Commission investigated many cases that had been distorted or concealed in the past. In addition to truth-finding, the Commission helped restore the honor of many of the victims and bereaved families, and the government was urged to strive towards reconciliation according to the recommendations of the Commission, such as the offering of official state apologies, memorial service support, reexamination, registration of historical records, and providing peace and human rights education programs. Below is a summary of the accomplishments of the Commission year by year.

The initial period of the Commission’s establishment in 2006 was focused on raising public awareness and support by instituting an operational framework. Victims and bereaved families across the nation were urged to apply for investigation through concentrated PR activities. Expert investigators were hired by the Commission. The Commission was organized in a manner conducive to efficiency. Furthermore, the budget for exhumation and field research was secured, and various laws and regulations were enacted and revised. Lastly, individual committees within the Commission were organized to establish a firm foundation for operation.

In 2007, the Commission launched a series of intense investigations that resulted in truth verification for many cases. Investigations were initiated into cases related to the independence movement and the history of overseas Koreans during the Japanese colonization period, illegal massacres due to the abuse of public power during the Korean War period, and the human rights abuses that occurred after liberation during decades of authoritarian rule. Along with verdicts on the truth, recommendations were made to the government in restoring the honor of the victims.

Meanwhile, a Reconciliation Committee along with the Regulations on Executing Recommendations on Past Settlements were established which improved the effectiveness of the implementation of recommendations. The exhumation of massacre victims from the Korean War period was undertaken for the first time on a national level. Nationwide surveys on the status of victims were also conducted, which established a foundation to pursue reconciliation efforts.

In 2008, with the goal of completing all investigations before the expiration of the Commission, further efforts were made towards finding the truth, which were enhanced by the experience of the past two years and strengthened by increased investigative competencies. As a result, by October 31, 2008, the Commission had investigated 3,269 cases among a total of 10,962 (29.9%), and among them, issued truth verification decisions on 1,813 cases.

In terms of reconciliation, the President of the Republic of Korea apologized on behalf of the nation for the illegal activities committed by state officials. This was



accompanied by legal and political reconciliation measures after the court issued their rulings for reexamination or exonerated the victims. In addition, the Commission's activities were announced abroad by foreign reporters and news releases, and active cooperation was cultivated through exchanges with other countries experienced in past settlement issues. This strengthened the image of the Commission, as well as Korea’s reputation of preserving human rights.



  1. The Administration  of  truth-finding cases and recommendations


  1. Application, classification, and investigation of petitioned cases

Under Article 19 of the Framework Act, 10,860 applications were submitted directly to the Commission, while 246 applications were submitted to local governments and overseas embassies over a period of one year (December 1, 2005 ~ November 30, 2006). At the beginning, public recognition was low. The application period, however, remained limited. Much effort was then launched to encourage the victims and families to apply for investigations within the given period of time. For promotional efforts, the Commission held a series of road exhibits throughout the country and abroad. The publicity generated included meetings with 16 local metropolitan governments, field research briefings, visits to Russia, the U.S., and Japan, as well as mass media advertisements.

The Commission quickly classified and assigned the 10,860 petitioned cases. After careful review, the Commission decided on the initiation, dismissal, withdrawal, or transfer of the investigations. In order to improve the efficiency of the investigation, cases with similar or identical content were merged and for cases involving several incidents submitted on a single application, they were separated into several cases.

On April 25, 2006, the Commission decided to begin investigations on 388 submitted cases; 3 related to the anti-Japanese independence movement including the Hwanggan Marketplace independence movement, 382 related to massacres such as the Goyang Geumjeong Cave Incident, and 3 related to human rights abuses, including the Lee Soo-Keun espionage case. In February 2006, all applications were reviewed, and among the 10,860 cases submitted, 9,154 of them (84.2%) were chosen for investigation. Meanwhile, for cases where "the Commission believes that it is necessary to conduct an investigation into a case for the purposes of the Framework Act in historically important cases", independent investigations under the Commission's Mandate can be conducted according to Article 2 of the Framework Act. Based on this, eight cases were investigated including the case of the international introduction of Taekwondo and the enhancement of Korea's national prestige, the Bodo League massacres, the massacre of inmates at penitentiaries across the nation, the Yeosu-Suncheon Incident, the National Defense Army Incident, the Assassination Attempt of August 15, the case of the violation of the presidential decree by Oh Jong-Sang, and the case of press consolidation in 1980. Among these cases, the Taekwondo case and Oh Jong-Sang case were completed,

and the other six remain under investigation.


  1. Truth verification (or Non-Verifiability) Decisions

Truth verification of independence movement cases

The Commission conducted investigations into cases related to the anti-Japanese



independence movement before or during Japanese colonization and the history of overseas Koreans who were sacrificed for their efforts in protecting the sovereignty of the nation. The truth was verified in 15 cases regarding the independence movement, which was sub-classified into cases related to the March 1st Independence Movement, the mass movements of youth, laborers, and farmers, the Singanhoe movement, socialist movements, and anarchism.

The case of Lee Yun-Hee, who conducted independence movement activities in Heuguhoe ("Dark Friends Society") in the 1920s and the case of Lim Jong-Eop, along with seven other cases, were socialist or anarchist activities. The Commission, however, saw these as anti-Japanese independence movements and investigated them. Because of the amount of time that has passed, with anti-Japanese movements having occurred more than half a century ago, and because the cases are related to individuals, many of the statements of the petitioners and reference witnesses were inadmissible as evidence. Activities occurring overseas also present a challenge as they were difficult to trace. Due to these difficulties, it was challenging to investigate the truth, and as a result, 14 cases were ruled unverifiable.

Through literature and statements, the Commission verified that the massacre of the Miryang Independence Movement activists took place, but the Commission could not confirm if civilians were killed by rifle fire. This case serves as a prime example of the Commission's investigations amending an error in widely accepted history.

Under the direct authority of the Commission, three cases regarding the history of overseas Koreans were investigated: The case of the anti-trusteeship movement, the case of Korea's economic growth contributions from dispatched Korean nurses and miners in Germany, and the case of the international introduction of Taekwondo and the enhancement of Korea's national prestige.

In the “Case of Korea's Economic Growth Contributions from Dispatched Korean Nurses and Miners in Germany”, it was determined that the remittance of their money contributed greatly to the economic growth of Korea; but contrary to popular belief, the government did not receive commercial aid from Germany with the wages of miners and nurses as security.

Truth verification of massacres

A total of 7,802 cases on illegal massacres due to the abuse of public power during

the Korean War were received by the Commission. The number of cases would increase by 1,659 to a total of 9,461 if cases of massacres by groups opposing the legitimacy of the ROK were included. 9,461 cases represent 86% of the total cases received by the Commission.

The Commission investigated the Bodo League massacres, the military and police suppression of alleged North Korean People's Army collaborators, the Yeosu-Suncheon Incident, the U.S. Forces Bombings, and the malicious acts of the North Korean People's Army and leftist forces. The subjects of investigation included the scope of the massacre in question, victim identification, sequence of events, offenders, chain of command, and damages suffered by the bereaved families.

Cases of preventive detention, as in the cases of the Jeju and Cheongdo massacres, occurred immediately after the start of the Korean War and were systematically conducted by the National Bureau of Public Order within the Ministry of Home Affairs. The findings revealed that martial law was illegally enforced and that the police were directly involved with ordering preventive detention, as well as the imprisonment, release,



and execution of victims.

Cases related to alleged North Korean Army collaborators include the Goyang Geumjeong Cave case, the Uljin massacres, and the Ganghwa massacres. After the recapture of Seoul on September 28, 1950, these killings illegally transpired on suspicion and allegations without a clear standard or basis for handling North Korean collaborators. In many cases, killings were conducted because people in a given community wanted to exact vengeance on one another due to personal issues or disagreements.

Cases of U.S. forces bombings include the Danyang Gokgyegul Cave Incident, the Yecheon Sanseong-dong Incident, and the Wolmido Bombings. In these cases, bombings occurred in heavily populated areas without regard for civilian causalities and resulted in the death of many innocent lives including those of women and children.

The Commission also investigated the Ulsan Bodo League massacre case and the Cheongwon Ochang Warehouse Bodo League massacre case. In particular, in the Ulsan Bodo League massacre case, the Commission found a list of members from the Ulsan Bodo League that was used as an important piece of evidence in verifying the truth. It documents that the police systematically managed Bodo League members before and during the start of the Korean War. It also functioned as an “execution list” during massacres.

The Yeosu-Suncheon Incident represents a cornerstone in the enactment of the National Security Law and the establishment of the anti-communist regime in Korea. During rebel suppression operations, the military and police attempted to increase efficiency by killing civilians on the bases of accusations rather than through the conduct of trials.

A total of 1,659 cases of massacres related to groups that opposed the legitimacy of the ROK were reported, with most of them having been committed by the North Korean People's Army, local leftists, and partisans before and after the Korean War. Among these, the Commission investigated 196 cases that occurred in the areas of Yangju, Jumunjin, Wanju, Gapyeong, Gochang, Geumsan, Dangjin, Tongyeong, and Muju. Through this, it was verified that broad massacres were conducted by the North Korean People's Army and by leftists during the Korean War.

In particular, the Seocheon Registry Office massacre by leftists was verified by documents of the U.S. Korean War Crimes Division, the Daejeon Local Court rulings, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA) List of Korean War Victims and other reports and witness statements. The massacre was also described in a novel because of the tragic and traumatic effects it had on the local community.

Along with truth-finding activities, the Commission proposed appropriate recommendations such as official state apologies, corrections to the Family Registry, memorial service support, amendment of historical records, peace and human rights education, revision of human rights-related laws and systems, and support for the medical expenses and living costs for the victims.

Truth verification of human rights abuses and falsified charges

The Commission investigated human rights violation cases and falsified

accusation cases that occurred due to the abuse of public power from the time of liberation to the period of authoritarian rule. The cases were divided into those that had irrevocable court judgments and those that did not, and then they were categorized by type and period. As of October 2008, a total of 59 cases of human rights abuse were investigated.



Most of the cases of human rights abuse investigated by the Commission took place during times of political unrest, in the 1950s and 60s, after the May 16th Military Coup, the Yushin period, and during the 1980s. The abuses occurred in the form of illegal detentions and torture by investigation agencies such as the police, the Army Counter Intelligence Corps, the Army Security Forces, the Korea Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Planning Agency.

In particular, on most of the cases that received confirmed rulings, the prosecutors and court acknowledged the falsified confessions attained by investigators through illegal detention and torture. The espionage falsification cases involved people who crossed into the South from the North, abducted fishermen, had relatives in North Korea, and the Korean-Japanese, and occurred in the 1960s and 1980s.

Cases related to people who crossed into the South from the North include the spy fabrication case of Yang Jun-Ho (1955) and the falsification of espionage charges against Lee Soo-Keun (1969); cases related to those with relatives in North Korea include the spy fabrication cases against Seok Dal-Yun (1980), Kim Gi-Sam (1980), and Lee Jun-Ho and Bae Byeong-Hee (1985); cases related to abducted fishermen are Baek Nam-Ok and five others (1968), Gang Dae-Gwang (1968, 1978), Seo Chang-Deok (1984), and Jeong Sam-Geun (1985); and cases related to Korean-Japanese are the spy fabrication cases of Shin Gui-Yeong and his family (1980), Cha Pung-Gil (1982), Lee Jang-Hyeong (1984), and Kim Yang-Gi (1986).

Regarding these cases, the Commission not only verified the truth behind these events, but revealed other facts as well, such as the collective victimization of family members and relatives, torture, forced depositions of villagers that led to the destruction of local communities, and the disruption of the Korean community in Japan.

The cases of Jo Bong-Am of the Progressive Party (1958), Jo Yong-Su of the Minjok Daily (1961), the spy falsification of Kim Yong-Jun (1975), and the Aramhoe (1989) and OSonghoe (1982) Incidents were politically motivated, involved fabrication of evidence, and in violation of the National Security Law. These incidents occurred mostly in the 1950s, after the May 16th Military Coup, the Yushin period, and after the 1980s, both of which were periods marked by times of political unrest.

In addition, the case of Oh Jong-Sang's violation of emergency measures (1974), and the case of Kang Ki-Hoon's forged will (1991) are representative cases of falsification during the political transition period. Furthermore, the fabricated Guro farmland lawsuit case, which involved an abuse of judiciary rights for the sake of advancing government plans, was also investigated. The Commission recommended an official state apology and reexamination of the case.

Investigations were also conducted on cases such as the forced donation of the Buil Scholarship Foundation assets, the obstruction of the repatriation of Korea-Japanese to the North, and the disqualification of the 23rd and 24th bar examination interviewees. In these cases, a state apology, new legislation to relieve damages, and measures to cancel the disqualification status were recommended.


  1. Recommendations and submission of investigation reports


Recommendations of the Commission contribute greatly to national solidarity and

the growth of democracy by restoring the honor of the victims and families, preventing reoccurrences, and fostering reconciliation between the offenders and victims. As of



October 31, 2008, 1,753 cases among the total 1,813 cases had recommendations to the government.

Recommendations included official state apologies, correction of the Family Registry, reexamination, memorial services, the correction of historical records, archiving of historical files, legislation for relief of damages, restoration of damages, peace and human rights education, indemnity of damages, and treatment of aftereffects. Furthermore, many efforts were made to resolve past conflicts and create a social environment for greater solidarity in the future.

To ensure that the recommendations by the Commission were properly executed, the "Regulations on the Establishment and Operation of the Recommendations Follow-Up Board" was enacted upon request (August 27, 2007, Presidential Decree No.195), and as a result, the Recommendations Follow-Up Board was established under the Office of the Prime Minister. In 2008, this organization was incorporated into the Ministry of Public Administration and Security after restructuring the cabinet.

In order to better fulfill the "Measures of the State and Commission for Reconciliation" according to Article 4 of the Framework Act, the Reconciliation Committee was established on June 19, 2007 to administer reconciliation and memorial efforts, establish a road-map for settling the past, investigate psychological damages and development of review programs for reconciliation, and to search for methods to improve recommendations for each individual case.

In addition to these efforts, the Commissioner and members of the Commission consoled the victims’ families by participating in joint regional memorial and prayer services in Jeju, Hampyeong, Goyang, Yeosu, Mungyeong, Ulsan, Sancheong, Gochang, Gyeongsan, Haenam, and Ganghwa.

In regards to the Ulsan Bodo League massacre Incident, on January 14, 2008, President Roh Moo-Hyun, on behalf of the nation and in accordance with the Commission’s recommendation, apologized for the illegal acts committed by the government during the Korean War. For the Goyang Geumjeong Cave and Naju Dongbakguljae cases, the local police commissioner and police chiefs participated in the memorial services and expressed deep regret and offered apologies.

As of October 2008, the court decided to hold retrials for 9 of the 24 cases that the Commission recommended for reexamination. Among these, exonerated were the people involved in the case of Jo Yong-Su of the Minjok Daily, the abduction of the Taeyoungho fishing boat, the fabrication of espionage charges against fishermen, the spy fabrication case of Cha Pung-Gil, and the spy fabrication case of Seo Chang-Deok.


- President Roh Moo-Hyun Apologizes for the Victims of the Ulsan Bodo League Massacre

President Roh Mu-Hyun publically apologized for the government's illegal exercise of public power. On January 24, 2008, President Roh expressed the government's position regarding the settlement of historical issues and offered an official comprehensive apology regarding the illegal exercise of power by past governments. Through a videotaped message, President Roh made a sincere apology to the victims and the bereaved families of the Ulsan Bodo League massacre incident.

The Commission held a memorial event for the victims of the Ulsan Bodo League massacre. After the presidential apology, a condolence speech and performance followed. Present at this event was the President of the Commission, the Minister of Government



and Home Affairs, the Head Secretary of Civilian and Social Affairs of the Roh Administration, the Mayor of Ulsan Metropolitan City, the Congresswoman of the Democratic Labor Party, the Head of the Ulsan Policy Agency and the Divisional Army Commander of the Ulsan Region.

Around five hundred citizens participated at the event, including leaders of the bereaved families' organizations and civil society. Before the event, on November 27, 2007, the Commission verified the truth of the Ulsan Bodo League massacre. In the early period of the Korean War in August of 1950, 407 innocent civilians from the Ulsan region were massacred by ROK soldiers and the police. Although President Roh made similar apologies in 2003 and 2006 for the atrocities of the past authoritarian governments against civilians, this was the first time a comprehensive presidential apology was given.

<Summary of President Roh Moo-Hyun's Message>

"Dear Citizens of Ulsan and Bereaved Family Members of the Bodo League Incident, The Bodo League Incident was a great tragedy in our modern history. I, as

President and on behalf of the people, sincerely apologize for the illegal acts committed by past state authorities. I deeply apologize on behalf of the country for misconduct in the past by the government. I also express my sympathy to the victims and families. I pray for the innocent victims, and I convey my deepest condolences to their bereaved families.

I also offer words of apology to all victims, including their families, who were abused by state power. We should take this as a lesson so as to prevent this kind of incident from happening again. The Commission aimed to achieve genuine reconciliation by finding the truth, easing the grievances of those unfairly treated, and restoring their honor. This is to restore the damaged morality and trustworthiness of state authority."


Submission of investigation reports

According to Article 32 of the Framework Act, the Commission reports its

activities twice a year to the President and National Assembly in order to publicize these events and create public consensus. Since its establishment, five reports have been issued by the Commission. The 1st investigation report in 2006 reported the general situation of the Commission and the list of cases to be investigated. The 2nd investigation report included the status of investigations into cases by type, region, and category including the decisions of seven cases such as the case of Jo Yong-Su of the Minjok Daily.

In the first half of 2007, the 3rd report was published. It included 24 case decisions, including the 11th Army Division Incident at Hampyeong. In the 4th report, 25 cases were decided, including the case of Jo Bong-Am of the Progressive Party. In the first half of 2008, the 5th investigation report was submitted and included 50 case decisions and recommendations for the Seocheon Registry Office massacre and the U.S. bombings in Wolmido.

For each publication, 2,500 copies were distributed to the National Assembly, government, organizations related to past settlement, research groups, libraries, civic groups, and modern history researchers in order for the findings and recommendations to be integrated into the decision-making of policies and research. After investigating 1,412 cases related to violations of the presidential emergency measures, the "Special Report on the Investigation into Violations of the Emergency Measures" was submitted to the president and National Assembly. In March 2007, a discussion session with experts was held to review the unconstitutionality or illegality of the emergency measures and to seek methods to redeem and restore the honor of victims. 


Other activities to support truth-finding


Support for efficient investigations

After the enactment of the Framework Act, many actions were taken to increase the efficiency and expertise of investigations such as the establishment of the Commission and its sub-commission, security of manpower and budget, and the enactment of various laws that aided in setting the processes and procedures of the Commission.

After launch, the Commission organized commissioners' meetings, sub-commissions, and the Reconciliation Committee. It then operated advisory groups and the honorary member system to select cases for investigation, make decisions, and conduct reconciliation efforts. From December 22, 2005, to October 31, 2008, a total of

83 commissioners' meetings were held, with 879 cases handled. In addition, the Commission hired more than 130 professional investigators to secure expertise in manpower and educated over 80 officials from central and local governments to strengthen their investigative capabilities.

At the time of establishment, the Commission was organized into a headquarters, 3 bureaus, 3 departments, and 13 teams. Over the course of investigations however, the secretariat was reorganized six times to strengthen the investigative functions of planning, PR, and supplementary functions. This also included cooperation with other Complementary Activities such as exhumation. Currently, the Commission is organized into a headquarters, 4 bureaus, 1 aide, 1 office, 4 divisions, and 14 teams.

Meanwhile, the Commission’s budget was secured for operation and investigations. The allocated amount of budget was as follows: In 2006, KRW 9.7 billion; in 2007, KRW 12.5 billion including costs for increasing manpower; and in 2008, KRW

19.7 billion. (USD 1 = KRW 1,466 as of Dec. 3, 2008)

The necessary evidence needed to verify the truth was collected from documents stored at organizations in Korea and abroad, and efficient investigation was made possible through the production and collection of records. Not only were the archives of past settlement-related organizations used, but the documents of the National Archives of Korea and National Assembly, and overseas documents from the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, and Japan were also included in the fact-finding process. In order to efficiently manage these documents for investigations, a document management system was established to organize, utilize, and maintain the produced and collected documents systematically.


Joint efforts in exhumation and truth-finding

In addition to truth-finding investigations, exhumation and fieldwork was conducted through a service contractor to find the necessary evidence and to build a foundation for reconciliation. It also promoted the Commission’s activities to the local community and people. For a period of six months starting from December 2006, the Commission investigated an estimated 154 burial grounds scattered across the nation, and immediately began exhumations at 37 locations. Beginning with Bongseong Mountain in Gurye, Jeonnam in June 2007, a total of approximately 400 bodies were found, and in the cobalt mines in Gyeongsan, 240 bodies and 1,085 artifacts including bullet shells, seals,



and nametags were discovered. 110 bodies were found at Cheongwon Bunteogo. 34 bodies were found at Gollyeonggol in Daejeon. 13 bodies were found at Bongseong Mountain in Gurye.

In 2008, exhumations were underway at seven spots in five locations; Bunteogol and Jigyeonggol in Cheongwon; the cobalt mines in Gyeongsan; Maegok-dong, Suncheon in Jeonnam Province; Galmyeongdo, Gujado-ri, Uisin-myeon in Jindo; and Won-ri and Oegong-ri in Sicheon-myeon, Sancheong-gun, Gyeongnam Province.

The exhumations related to the illegal massacres from the Korean War were significant in that they were the first government-led effort in 50 years and represent a response to the bereaved families’ demands for such activities. Since 2008, the Commission received 41 applications from local governments and 33 were selected for joint exhumation of potential burial grounds.

Since 2007, service contractors were hired to conduct field studies on massacres, and in 2008, the Basic Fact-Finding investigation of civilian sacrifices was jointly conducted with local autonomous governments. In 2007, a total of nine areas and 8,600 victims were subject to field studies: Ganghwa, Gongju, Cheongwon, Gurye, Yeongam, Gochang, Yecheon, Cheongdo, and Gimhae. In 2008, six areas are currently under investigation: Inje, Yeongdong, Imsil, Yeonggwang, Yeongcheon, and Hamyang. These Basic Fact-Finding investigations were jointly conducted with relevant local governments in 71 affected urban and rural areas and resulted in increased investigation efficiency. It also gave the local governments and residents a better understanding of the activities of the Commission.


Truth-finding and reconciliation efforts through international cooperation

The Commission raised public support for past settlement activities and increased recognition by making cases accessible to the local and international press and fostered international cooperation. It also applied great effort in soliciting the opinions and requests of bereaved families and experts by hosting discussion meetings with bereaved families and civic groups.

By providing its decisions and recommendations on past settlement cases to the press, the Commission created positive public awareness and consensus on its activities and the settlement of the past. In addition, newsletters in Korean and English were distributed to experts and scholars in Korea and abroad to publicize and raise the understanding of the Commission’s activities.

In particular, special articles were prepared for major foreign press outlets such as ABC, AFP, AP, BBC, International Herald Tribune, Japan Focus, The New York Times, NHK, The Observers, South China Morning Post, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and the Sydney Morning Herald. The information on the activities of the Commission, U.S. bombing-related incidents, and exhumations led to an increased awareness and support for Korea's past settlement cases and the activities of the Commission.

The Commission also participated in an international cooperation and exchange with visits to Spain, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Peru, U.S., Germany, Japan, and China. With Chile, the Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to share past settlement results and experiences, as well as engage in human exchanges. Current negotiations for an MOU with Argentina are in progress. For Indonesia and Spain, experts in the field of past settlement were invited to Korea to share their experiences.


  1. Further Agendas



The Commission has conducted investigations on approximately 1/3 of all filed petitions, which totaled approximately 45% of all filed cases. The truth verification of the remaining petitions is scheduled to be completed before the Commission's mandate ends in 2010. Critical parts of the Commission’s mission consist of constituting policy guidelines, reinstating the honor of the dead, and establishing operational manuals to manage the archives as well as suggesting alternative measures to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring, and publishing a comprehensive report to submit to the National Assembly and the president within six month from the date of the commissions’ expiration.



  1. Completing truth verification within the term

Among all of the filed petitions, the Commission verified a total of 3,269 petitions (approximately 30%) since its establishment three years ago. This does not meet the quota given to the Commission at the beginning of its term. Field research manuals however have been solidly developed, and the research results keep improving every year. Analytical methodologies on documentation and research materials including testimonies of petitioners and witnesses were also expedited. Thus, overall research capacity was greatly enhanced. The Commission’s primary priority is completing the filed petitions and verifying the truth. Besides assuming responsibility to rectify Korea's distorted past, the results of these cases also represent a sense of closure for the bereaved families, a feeling many have longed for most of their lives.

The Commission intends to complete verification on commission-initiated investigations by 2009. The above-categorized cases are mostly conducted by the Commission’s Bureau of Investigation on Massacres and include massacres against the Bodo League members and their collaborators (1,990 cases), cases related to Yeosun Incident (719 cases), and the mass killings of prison inmates across the nation (619 cases).

In the course of the truth verifications, the following work was conducted: archival research on the aerial bombings by the United States forces, field research on the psychological damage of victims sustained through interviews, surveys on the latest updates on victims of civilian mass killings, and exhumation work. Other than the measures described above, innovative measures to maximize the accuracy and expedite the investigative process shall also be considered.

For the Commission, completing filed petitions is a minimum task to offer to the memory of the victims and the bereaved families who have waited so long to tell their stories. There is a moral obligation to present accurate history.


  1. Reconciliation and follow-up measures after truth verification

The Commission has been tasked with a responsibility of verifying the truth of the past; and thereby fostering reconciliation between the victims and their perpetrators. The Commission is also entitled to offer recommendations to reinstate the honor of the victims and mediate reconciliation between the confessed perpetrators and victims, to revise policies in order to prevent any similar atrocities from reoccurrence, and to



establish truth-finding research institutes.

Follow-up measures are to be implemented by the Recommendations Follow-up Board under the Ministry of Public Administration and Security. Little progress however has been made in conjunction with an establishment of a truth-finding research institute. Due to the limited amount of time, it is urgent that the Commission provides well planned methodologies to restore the honor of the victims and their bereaved families, to reconcile with the perpetrators, to establish memorial monuments, to establish and manage the memorial archives, and to complete the overall plan to found a concerned research center or archive to preserve the historical legacies introduced through the Commission’s findings.

The Commission’s additional responsibilities include indicating and documenting the recommendations for each truth verification in a comprehensive report and thus provide preventive measures against future human rights abuses by public power, provide reconciliation of the past, and provide an opportunity to advance democracy in the country.

In conjunction with the implementation of the recommendations from truth verification, the Recommendations Follow-up Board was established in the Ministry of Public Administration and Security. The Commission, in cooperation with the Recommendations Follow-up Board, must regularly examine and analyze the planning and implementation processes of recommendations in order to revise inefficiencies in the relevant policies, systems, or procedures.

The Commission also needs to plan the enshrinement of victim remains and plan future exhumation work by instituting applicable regulations or laws and by securing the necessary finance and procurement measures. Documentation of investigative records including biannual reports to the National Assembly and the president and the utilization of these materials are essential for any future academic research and for raising public awareness on the issue. Concerned laws and systems must also be supplemented, and all documented reports from the Commission’s investigations should be systematically categorized, filed, and stored at an archival institute such as the National Archives.


  1. Judicial preparation to prevent the reoccurrence of similar atrocities

The majority of petitions at the Commission are filed against illegal acts conducted by public power. Therefore, it is critical to prepare appropriate judicial reforms to prevent the reoccurrence of similar incidents. Particularly, the significance of educational needs on the Commission’s work should not be undermined. Education is a critical element in raising public awareness so as to foster an accurate understanding.


  1. Publication of the comprehensive report

The Commission is obligated to publish and to submit it to the president and the National Assembly a comprehensive report encompassing the overall content of the activities and investigative results within six months after the expiration of its mandate. The report must cover not only the truth verification of individual petitions but also the overall guidelines to institute further policy-making and be a role model for other countries seeking a similar course of history in terms of truth-seeking. Furthermore, the Commission must offer the government systematic recommendations for truth-finding measures so as to reconcile with the past atrocities and prepare a firm foundation to build a brighter future.



The Commission must complete its remaining tasks, and achieve a concrete settlement of the past by revealing untold stories, thereby leading to reconciliation. Upon successfully completing its mission, the Commission will assist in building a more unified nation, constituting a role model for other nations that choose to pursue truth-seeking activities. As a result, the truth and reconciliation activities of the Commission would show to the international community that the Republic of Korea as a nation is committed to protecting human rights.


(to be continued)





Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(8) Analysis of Verified Cases(4) 

Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(7) Analysis of Verified Cases(3) 

Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(6) Analysis of Verified Cases(2) 

►Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(5) Analysis of Verified Cases(1)

 Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(4) Extra-Investigation Activities

Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(3) Procedure for Investigation

Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years(2) Introduction to the commission

►Truth and Reconciliation Activities of the Past Three Years (1) I. Historical Background of Korea's Past Settlement 




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