South Korean President Moon Jae-in has expressed his determination to find out who ordered to fire on citizens during the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Movement in 1980 and who is legally responsible for it.
In a special interview on Sunday with Gwangju MBC to mark the 40th anniversary of the movement, President Moon said thorough investigations should be undertaken to find victims of the massacre and reveal details of the air strikes on protesters and the efforts to cover or distort truths. He has emphasized the importance of obtaining facts about the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Movement every year since he demonstrated his commitment to discovering truths about the opening of fire including air strikes and holding those responsible accountable at a commemoration for the 37th anniversary after taking office in May 2017. The ruling Democratic Party of Korea, which has secured enough seats to pass any bill except for a bill to amend the constitution in the April 15 general elections, is planning to embark on revising relevant laws as soon as the 21st National Assembly opens.
“Those who denigrate and distort what happened during the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Movement will have to face consequences,” the president told Gwangju MBC. “Tolerance is an integral part of democracy, but it should not be extended to those who undermine democracy.” Of the May 18 investigation committee, which was launched on Tuesday, Moon said, “I have high expectations for the committee, and the government would provide support wherever necessary.”
Eighteen newly-elected lawmakers of the ruling party for Gwangju and the South Jeolla Province issued a statement saying that they would revise eight laws related to the 1980 massacre as soon as the National Assembly commences to complete the work left unfinished in the previous session. The joint proposals they will make include the acts that expand the role and authority of the May 18 investigation committee, impose harsher penalties for distorting the history and prohibit the burying of those who disturbed the constitutional order at national cemeteries.
The Unified Future Party, some of whose members made controversial remarks on the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Movement, issued an official statement and made a public apology. “I would like to apologize for the derogatory insulting comments on the Gwangju movement made by some members,” said Joo Ho-yeong, the party floor leader. “Their views have been considered to the view of the party feeding misunderstanding and controversy, and this must not happen again.”
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