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Former President Chun Doo-hwan Ordered Nokhwa Project

Posted December. 20, 2005 08:23,   


On December 19, the Ministry of National Defense’s (MND) Truth Seeking Committee headed by Lee Hae-dong announced that the “School Nokhwa Project,” in which university student activists were forced into conscription during the early 1980s, was ordered by former President Chun Doo-hwan.

The committee also announced that two agents of the Headquarters of Intelligence Detachment (HID) related to the Shilmido case were killed by fellow agents for being absent without leave (AWOL), as well as other abuses of human rights taking place within the unit.

School Nokhwa Project—

According to the mid-probe announcement of the committee, on April 2, 1981, former President Chun verbally ordered the minister of National Defense to draft student activists inciting trouble and put them in the frontline units. This order was conveyed to the head of Military Manpower Administration.

The committee also confirmed the fact that, afterwards, the MND held a meeting, and on December 1 of the same year, drafted the “Special Measures for Trouble-making University Students” and verbally reported to Cheong Wa Dae while concluding an agreement to implement the measures through internal documents of Defense Security Command (DSC) and MND.

The committee argued, “Through such circumstances, one can verify that former President Chun directly ordered the School Nokhwa Project.”

At the time, the former body of DSC created a list of 1,121 students subject to the project, and between September 1982 and December 1984, it forcefully drafted over 1,100, and after “purifying” them with the Nokhwa Project, sent the students back to the schools, and used them as informants to monitor and gather information.

The government admitted in the past, during the 1988 hearings on the Fifth Republic, that 447 were forcefully drafted, and out them, 265 were used as informants.

An official of the committee said, “It has been found that in the process of the project, six died, including a suicide. While further investigating the specific details of the Nokhwa Project, we also plan to conduct a study on how to compensate and honor the victims.”

Shilmido Case—

The committee also discovered that the Shilmido Unit – comprised of military agents trained to infiltrate North Korea – which operated during the Park Chung-hee regime was created by the Agency of National Security Planning (ANSP) in order to retaliate against North Korea’s January 21, 1968 attack and was managed by the Air Force.

However, the committee has not confirmed who the exact officials of the ANSP were that ordered the creation of the unit.

It is also reported that the Air Force recruiting officers signed 31 unit members on the condition of “being commissioned to a 2nd lieutenant or a noncommissioned officer after finishing training, as well as being paid special compensation.”

The committee’s spokesperson Ji Young-sun said, “Only seven out of the 31 members had criminal records, and their crimes were not serious but rather petty crimes.”

During the training period between 1968 and 1970, seven members were killed by beating and abuse, such as when two agents that went AWOL were beaten to death by fellow agents on the orders from the training commander.

The agents are said to have escaped the unit on August 23, 1971, because of various reasons including: living for almost three years (more than the original three months of training) alienated from society and under inhumane treatment and beatings, not being paid even after undergoing strenuous training with poor meals, and rumors that the unit would be disbanded.

The committee claimed, “At the time, the military authorities also violated military laws by not notifying the families and burying the bodies of 20 agents killed while escaping, and also putting the four survivors on trial without granting them lawyers, sentencing them to death, and then exercising the sentence.”

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com