Children among 100,000 executed in south Korea
A horror long known by Koreans was confirmed earlier this year: large numbers of children were among the 100,000+ Koreans murdered by the U.S.-backed south Korean government in the 1950’s.
Korea, a country with a history that goes back thousands of years, was taken over by the Japanese in the early twentieth century. After years of brutal occupation, and a sustained struggle against the occupation, the Japanese were defeated in World War 2 and forced to relinquish their hold of Korea in 1945.
The USSR and the U.S., temporary allies in the war against the Axis, each agreed to station troops in one half of the peninsula until the Koreans could organize their own government.
All across the country workers and farmers, inspired by the resistance movement against the Japanese occupation, began to set up the frame work of a grass roots democracy.
At the same time, the U.S. government installed Syngman Rhee, a right-wing exile who had been living in the United States, as president of the south in a phony election, ignoring the national government being set up by the Koreans themselves.
A government was unilaterally proclaimed in the south prompting the forces in control of the north, made up largely of leaders of the Workers’ Party of Korea (who played a large part in the fight against the Japanese occupiers) proclaimed a government as well.
The government of the south, largely unpopular and propped up by the U.S. military, began a vicious campaign against all suspected “leftists” (at a time when a majority of the people in both the north and south looked held “leftist” ideas or at least looked at them favorably).
From that point until the end of the Korean War, in which the north tried to unify the country under its leadership, at least 100000 Korean men, women and children were executed in cold blood by the Rhee government and U.S. military.
Decades later, after a series of U.S.-backed dictatorships in the south, a liberal President, Roh Moo-hyun, created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in December, 2005, to investigate crimes carried out before and during the war.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission later released findings supporting the testimony of Koreans who witnessed the mass killings. So far, more than 24 mass killings have been verified.
The Commission found that the murderous campaign was carried out in an attempt to prevent an imminent popular uprising against the Rhee dictatorship. To eliminate any potential enemies–both then and in the future–whole families of suspected leftists were murdered.
In Namyangju, government forces murdered more than 460 people, including at least 23 children under the age of 10.
One survivor, Kim Jong-Chol, 71, recalls that “when the people from the other side (north Korea) came here, they didn’t kill many people,” in contrast to his own government in the south which carried out “indiscriminate killings.”
The remains of hundreds of bodies have been found in ten mass graves. In one cobalt mine in the south, 107 bodies have been found. An estimated 3500 more still remain.
Recently declassified documents from the U.S. military show that U.S. officials witnessed or participated in many of the killings and sanctioned others.
The Associated Press has reported on military documents that show U.S. military officers took pictures of “assembly line-style executions” outside of Deajeon, where upwards of 7000 people were shot and dumped into mass graves.
Another file shows that a U.S. officer gave the go ahead for a south Korean military unit under his command to murder 3500 political prisoners.
Surviving relatives of those killed have demanded an apology from the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in south Korea refuses to even comment on the situation.
The United States maintains a force of tens of thousands of soldiers and loads of heavy weaponry in south Korea to this day. A “National Security Act” created in 1948, which makes it illegal to promote “anti-government ideas” (among other things) and carries a maximum sentence of death, also remains in effect.