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Three Inmates Beaten to Death and Cover-up Under Park Jung Hee Regime

Three Inmates Beaten to Death and Cover-up Under Park Jung Hee Regime

Posted August. 29, 2002 22:28,   


During the “Persuasion Operation” from 1973 under the Park Jung Hee regime, it has become known, some of the prisoners who refused to defect, along with leftist inmates, were beaten to death. In addition, the KCIA and Ministry of Justice, which set up a “Persuasion Operation Task Force” (Task Force) and took charge of forcing the communist prisoners to change their ideology, knowingly covered up the deaths.

In a non-definitive report on three deaths inside the prisons, which was released on August 29, 2002, by Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths (Commissioner Han Sang-bum) (hereinafter PTC), the PTC disclosed such discoveries.

Kim Choon-gon, a permanent member on the PTC, revealed, “In 1974, Choi Suk-ki (then, 43), a leftist inmate, and Park Yoong-suh (53 at that time), both serving in Daejun Penitentiary, died of beating that took place during the Persuasion Operation. Also, the Daegoo Prison’s inmate Son Yoon-gyu died of the same reason in 1976.”

A Cho (then, 29) who beat Choi, was a member of the Task Force as a special agent inmate selected among the prisoners, and took charge of persuading communist prisoners into denouncing their ideology.

When Choi died, according to the PTC, prison officials and KCIA agents discussed and decided to cover it up. On April 6, they reported to Justice Minister that the cause of Choi’s death was heart attack

On July 20, 1974, the late communist inmate Park was moved into an isolated ward and received various tortures by the special agent inmates. They, for example, stuck needles all over Park’s body. Then, right after the torturing, Park slashed his artery with a glass fragment of a prison window frame and killed himself.

The PTC said that, after the torture, Park left a message just before the suicide written in his own blood on the wall of his prison cell, reading, “Stop forcing ideological defection.” The prison and KCIA authorities knew that Park committed a suicide in order to avoid the violent tortures by the special agent inmates. But they hid it and treated the case as a simple suicide one.

In the meanwhile, on March 24, 1976, Son waged a hunger strike when he got to know that his statement was manipulated into a promise of defection. In response, the prison authorities force-fed Son with salty water three times by inserting a hose through Son’s mouth.

After the force-feeding, Son’s health deteriorated rapidly and died of complications on April 1. But the prison authorities notified his family that he died of anemia.

The PTC expressed, “The deaths resulted from unlawful violent tortures during the Operation. In other word, it was a result of illegal exercise of power. But we have to conduct more research to determine whether the inmates’ refusal to defect could be categorized as a democratization activity.”