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Archive Audit Unearths Lost Documents

Posted February. 22, 2006 04:32,   


Government reports on the 1980 Samcheong Education Program Incident and May 18 Democratic Uprising, which had been thought lost, were discovered intact, according to the National Archives and Record Service (NARS) yesterday.

In addition, NARS said that detailed combat reports, military operation logs, and incident reports pertaining to the Korean War were also found stored in a systematic manner.

NARS, which operates under the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, announced yesterday that it made the above discoveries last October while checking how well 123 local and central government bodies had been storing major government reports.

Filed Away-

Government reports on Japanese colonial rule, the Korean War, the May 16 Military Coup, the Samcheong Education Program Incident and the May 18 Democratic Uprising were just some of the documents discovered. All of them are expected to be used for researching the country’s contemporary history and finding the truth about past incidents.

The Samcheong Education Program Incident sparked by military action led by former President Chun Doo-hwan under the pretext of purging those who “corrupted public morals” in 1980 has been classified. The military force took power on December 12 in 1979 in a coup and quelled the May 18 Democratic Uprising.

The existence of documentation on the military force’s plans and related photographs were first confirmed through reports related to the Samcheong Education Program Incident.

Martial law reports, a list of commanders’ names, the death toll, and recordings related to criminal incidents pertaining to the May 18 Democratic Uprising in 1980 have been confirmed to exist.

A total of about 4,500 volumes of reports on the Korean War, including detailed combat reports, reports pertaining to POWs, and military unit reports, all of which were filed away by the Ministry of National Defense, have been discovered. In addition, a total of about 1,700 reports pertaining to the April 3 Jeju Island Incident and the Geochang Civilian Massacre Incident that occurred before and after the Korean War have been made public.

NARS collected and preserved a total of about 98,000 reports related to Japanese colonial rule, including reports pertaining to colonial rule by the Japanese governor-general, a list of forced workers’ names, and reports related to the awarding of decorations for pro-Japanese Koreans and Japanese involved in occupation duties.

Intentionally Scrapped-

It has also been revealed that the government discarded a slew of reports in 1962, 1968 and 1975 under a plan to scrap accumulated reports and to preserve others permanently.

In response, NARS will probe into how well reports pertaining to major government policies, projects, and incidents have been preserved, and has also decided to increase its systematic collection work efforts.

NARS is scheduled to post a list of reports available on its website (www.archives.go.kr) today. Some formerly classified documents will also be made available to the public after a reclassification review.

For more information, call 042-481-6275.

Tae-Hun Hwang beetlez@donga.com