Go to contents

President Apologizes for April 3rd Incident

Posted October. 31, 2003 22:39,   


President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday had a luncheon meeting with 500 Jeju residents at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Jeju. “As a president taking charge of national affairs, I send words of wholehearted apology and condolence to the bereaved families and the people of Jeju for the past wrongdoing of government authorities,” President Roh said concerning the Jeju April 3rd Incident.

“Countless innocent people were victimized during the armed uprising on April 3, 1948 waged by the South Korean Workers Party, and the subsequent armed conflicts and suppression occurred until September 21, 1954,” President Roh said that day.

“The government will provide an active support, so that propositions made by the National Commission on Jeju 4/3 Incident, including construction of a 4/3 peace park and restoration of the impaired reputation of those who were engaged in the uprising,” promised President Roh.

The statement of President Roh came as the National Commission on Jeju 4/3 Incident completed drawing up a fact-finding report and proposed to express an apology at the governmental level. It was the first time that the government made an official apology at this level.

At the meeting, President Roh described the 4/3 incident as “one of the biggest tragedy of Korean modern history.” He also said, “People of Jeju experienced enormous human and property losses in the history of the Cold War and division of the Korean peninsula.”

“It is not just for the victims and the bereaved families to reveal the truth and restore the impaired reputation of the victims,” said President Roh. “This is to promise a brighter future by paying respect to those who contributed to the foundation of the Republic of Korea and at the same time, by achieving a true reconciliation.”

“The government meant to express its official stance on the 4/3 incident this spring, but it couldn’t because the fact-finding investigation was not completed,” explained President Roh. “So the government was considering declaring its stance on next year’s anniversary of the 4/3 Incident, but the government’s stance was declared today since the general election will be nearing next year.”

At the same time, some conservative organizations, such as an association of bereaved families during the process of founding Republic of Korea dissented, saying, Roh’s apology is wrong in that it was based on a distorted fact-finding report which unfairly emphasized excessive suppression.”

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com