Amid the South Korean and US flags lining both sides of Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul was a message reading, “US must admit responsibility and apologize for the April 3 Massacre!” While South Korean flag-waving demonstrators marched throughout the capital to denounce the sentence in ex-President Park Geun-hye’s first trial, other citizens and family members of victims in the April 3 Uprising and Massacre in Jeju were demanding an official US apology and an investigation into the US military administration’s role in the massacre.
A joint press conference at Gwanghwamun Square to demand that the US assume responsibility for the killings was held at 4:30 pm on Apr. 7 by the Association for the Bereaved Families of 4/3 Victims, the Memorial Committee for the 70th Anniversary of the Jeju April 3rd Uprising and Massacre, and the Pan-National Committee for the 70th Anniversary of Jeju April 3. Participants in the press conference, which took place ahead of a 70th anniversary pan-national April 3 Uprising cultural festival scheduled for that evening, called for an official US apology for the incident and an investigation into the role of the US Army Military Government Korea and its advisors at the time.
The press conference began with a moment of silence for the victims of April 3, with around 200 victim family members and other joining in a chorus of the song “Jamdeulji Anneun Namdo (Sleepless Southern Island),” which commemorates the victims.
president of the Bereaved Families of 4/3 Victims stands outside the US embassy in Seoul with other association members calling on the US government to apology for the 4.3 Jeju Massacre and an investigation into the incident on Apr. 7. (by Park Jong-shik
“Some 30,000 people died as a result of the Jeju April 3 Massacre, and we who have lived over the past 70 years need to take the time to reflect on what kind of role we played,” declared Bereaved Families Association representative Yang Yoon-gyeong from the platform.
“In addition to amendment the Special April 3 Act, we must also demand an apology and acceptance of responsibility for the massacre by the US,” Yang said.
During the press conference, participants read out an open letter entitled “The US must apologize and investigate the April 3 Massacre.” In the text, they wrote that the US military administration was “sent as a commander of US forces in the Jeju area just after April 3, 1948, to command and direct all suppression operations in Jeju and provided active support with weapons and equipment for the punitive forces while the scorched earth operation was taking place.”
“Responsibility for the mass slaughter of Jeju residents lies with the Rhee Syng-man administration and the US,” they declared.
The letter went on to stress that the “US administrations that should have taken responsibility have remained ‘bystanders’ and not said a word for 70 long years.”
“It is time for them to admit and officially apologize for their responsibility for the April 3 Massacre and to actively investigation the role of the US military administration and US military advisory group at the time,” it continued.
Family members of the April 3 victims clashed with police while attempting to deliver the protest letter to the US embassy. As Bereaved Family Association representatives and others approached the front of the complex, the embassy had police repeatedly communicate that it would “not accept open letters if reporters are present.”
“Jeju islanders desperately need an investigation into the April 3 Massacre. It makes no sense for the US to say it won’t accept letters if reporters are there,” said Yang.
Yang added that the demonstrators would “continue our sit-down protest in front of the embassy until it accepts our letter of protest.”
By Hwang Keum-bi, staff reporter
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