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US provides declassified documents on Gwangju Uprising

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Yonhap)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Yonhap)

A host of US documents on the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising, declassified and provided to South Korea, may offer fresh clues to understand what really happened nearly four decades after the bloodshed. 

On Monday, US handed over to Korea the copies of about 140 pages of State Department documents, including those produced by the US Embassy in Seoul regarding the uprising in the southwestern city of Gwangju in 1980. 

“It seems like new documents are included,” Kim In-chul, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a regular press briefing Tuesday. “Most of them were part of the documents declassified previously, but the redacted parts were revealed (this time).”

The ministry said it will first examine the documents with related agencies and experts and then disclose to the general public. 

In November, Seoul’s ministry had requested the US to declassify documents on the uprising, on public and legislator’s calls to reveal the related documents to uncover the truth, as President Moon Jae-in had repeatedly pledged to probe into the tragedy. 

“We will continue to negotiate with the US for additional declassification of documents on the May 18 movement,” the ministry said in a statement. 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the civilian uprising against former authoritative president Chun Doo-hwan’s military government. A brutal military crackdown on the protestors, many of them college students, left more than 200 people dead or missing, and 1,800 others wounded.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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