American investigative journalist highlights US role in suppression of Korean democracy movements 

Posted on : 2018-07-02 17:09 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Tim Shorrock relates similarities of US involvement in 1980 Gwangju and 1948 Jeju uprisings
US journalist Tim Shorrock has been covering Korean Peninsula issues since the 1970s.
US journalist Tim Shorrock has been covering Korean Peninsula issues since the 1970s.

“After examining the Jeju Uprising in the 1940s and the Gwangju Uprising in 1980, I was shocked at how similar they were despite the passage of over three decades in between. The Jeju Uprising [starting on Apr. 3, 1948] was an armed struggle against the US military administration formed in South Korea, while the Gwangju Uprising [starting on May 18, 1980] was an armed struggle against a South Korean military administration backed by the US, so you can see the commonalities in terms of the US’s involvement with the forces behind the suppression.”

Tim Shorrock, a US journalist specializing in investigative reporting, was speaking at a June 28 panel discussion sponsored by Jeju Island and organized by the Jeju 4/3 Research Institute on the topic “April 3: State Violence and Memory.” Shorrock has been covering Korean Peninsula issues since the 1970s was named an honorary citizen of Gwangju for his reporting uncovering secret US government documents in connection with the Gwangju Uprising.

In a presentation on the topic “The Jeju and Gwangju Uprisings as Seen by a US Reporter,” Shorrock explained, “With both the Jeju Uprising and the Gwangju Uprising in 1980, the US supported a massacre operation by suppression forces, with the Jeju situation in particular being a suppression operation organized and orchestrated by the US from the beginning.”

Shorrock explained that he had reached his conclusion “after over 30 years of investigating and writing about the Jeju Uprising following the Gwangju Democracy Movement in 1980.”

“The most important similarity is the role played by the US in the suppression of both uprisings,” he said.

“If you look at ‘History of Jeju,’ a collection of papers on the uprising, the US military government used the incident strategically, classifying Jeju as a ‘Red island’ after the general strike and protests that followed the police firing on residents on Mar. 1, 1947,” Shorrock explained.

“They portrayed 70 percent of Jeju residents as communists or communist collaborators,” he added.

“During the suppression of the Jeju Uprising, the US military government assumed a direct role beyond just involvement through the South Korean military and police,” he continued.

Shorrock went on to say that the “shadow lurking behind the suppression of the Jeju Uprising is the US military administration that directly ordered the subjugation.”

“In contrast, the hidden shadow with the Gwangju incident was the US [Jimmy] Carter administration’s decision to respond militarily to an uprising against the Chun Doo-hwan administration’s martial law decree,” he added.

“The roles of the US in the Jeju and Gwangju Uprisings were clearly different, but the results were similar,” Shorrock said.

“The people of South Korea and the US need to continue investigating these relationships and fully disclose the role of the US at the time of the Jeju and Gwangju Uprisings in the interests of justice and reconciliation,” he suggested.

“I hope activities like these can contribute to South Korea-US relations,” he added.

Since October of last year, the Pan-National Committee for the 70th Anniversary of Jeju April 3 has been campaigning to collect 100,000 signatures calling for “responsible action from the US and UN on the Jeju Uprising.”

By Kwon Hyuk-chul, staff staff writer

Please direct comments or questions to []

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles