The Korea Herald


Yoon address remembers victims of April 3 massacre in Jeju

By Kim Arin

Published : April 3, 2023 - 18:12

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Prime Minister Han Duk-soo speaks at the memorial event held at the peace park in Jeju City on Monday. (Yonhap) Prime Minister Han Duk-soo speaks at the memorial event held at the peace park in Jeju City on Monday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol offered condolences to the victims of the 1947-1954 mass killings of civilians on Jeju Island on Monday.

“I remain committed to my promise that I stand with the victims of the April 3 massacre,” Yoon said in a written address read by Prime Minister Han Duk-soo at the ceremony held at the peace park in Jeju City.

The president said it is the “duty of our country as a liberal democracy to remember and honor the victims, survivors and their families, and also to restore and protect their rights.”

“The Yoon administration sees it as our duty to do all we can to support all of the victims,“ the address read.

Some key members of the ruling People Power Party leadership attended the ceremony, including Secretary General Rep. Lee Chul-gyu and Policy Committee chief Rep. Park Dae-chul.

At the National Assembly in Seoul, the rest of the People Power Party lawmakers who didn’t make it to the ceremony in Jeju wore black suits and camellia flower pins in a show of respect for the victims of the massacre.

The party’s head spokesperson, Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, said his party would ensure “such a painful moment in our history won’t be repeated.”

“For over seven years, so many in Jeju were sacrificed in the extreme battle of ideologies,” he said. “As the massacre marks another anniversary, our party pledges to remember the significance of this day.”

The Democratic Party of Korea lawmakers expressed outrage that Yoon had failed to attend the ceremony in person.

“As president-elect, Yoon said a year ago that he would work to fully restore the honor of the victims,” Rep. Park Hong-keun, the party’s floor leader, said. “But I don’t see him here today.”

Rep. Lee Jae-myung, the party’s chairperson, said that the president’s earlier promise “went up in flames.”

Former President Moon Jae-in, a member of the Democratic Party, paid a visit to the peace park Monday afternoon, according to reports.

Last week, the Yoon administration added 78 more to the list of victims and 5,610 more to the list of the bereaved family members of the victims after reviewing newly submitted records. With these additions, a total of 108,881 people -- 14,738 victims and 94,143 bereaved family members -- are recognized as having been affected by the massacre.

Appearing at Monday’s National Assembly plenary session, Minister of Justice Han Dong-hoon told reporters that his ministry was looking to push for measures to allow victims and their families to seek a retrial, if they wish.

“I believe that the Justice Ministry is an institution that needs to put in place changes that can be felt,” he said.

From 1947, protests in Jeju against elections to establish a separate government in South Korea led to an insurgency in April 1948 organized by the Workers Party of South Korea against the anti-communist, paramilitary Northwest Youth League, which had been stationed there by the South Korean government.

The government ordered the eradication of the protesters and suspected sympathizers, and the killings were suppressed and censored for decades.