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Chun cannot bury the truth of Gwangju massacre, say civil groups

Chun cannot bury the truth of Gwangju massacre, say civil groups

Posted November. 24, 2021 07:28,   

Updated November. 24, 2021 07:28


Several organizations including the May 18 Memorial Foundation, the May 18 Democratic Uprising Men of Merit, the Group of Wounded Protestors of the May 18 Democratic Uprising, and the Organization of the May 18 Arrested and Wounded Demonstrators held a press meeting and said as such. “Chun shamelessly denied his culpability for the May 18 massacre by putting forward pathetic excuses,” stated the organizations. “Chun lived a disgusting life by insulting and degrading the heroic spirits of the May 18 Democratic Uprising,” they said.

“The people of Gwangju have consistently urged Chun to confess and sincerely regret his crime,” they added. These organizations showed remorse, saying, “We wanted justice and historical trials of his sins of violating the Constitution of the Republic of Korea and slaughtering innocent civilians through a libel trial against Chun for defaming a late priest Cho Bi-oh. However, our only remaining hope has been snatched away by Chun’s death.”

Former President Chun was indicted on the charge of defamation of the late Catholic priest Cho Bi-oh, Gwangju Uprising icon, and sentenced to a prison sentence of eight months and two years of a stay of execution of sentence in the first instance trial at the Gwangju District Court on Nov. 30, 2020. Chun appealed against the first instance ruling, which moved the case to an appellate court. As Chun passed away before a final and conclusive judgment is rendered, the prosecution is expected to dismiss the charge against Chun.

Chun was charged with defamation by denouncing the late priest as an “flagrant liar” in his memoir. Cho testified that he had witnessed that troops opened fire on civilians from helicopters at the Gwangju Democratic Movement. “Chun died without an apology. Now, we are left with nothing, wandering around the past. Although the criminal trial against Chun would be dismissed, we will pursue civil trials against Chun.”

In a lawsuit filed by the May organizations against Chun and his first son, Jae-gook, for damages, the first instance court ordered the defendants to pay 15 million won to the May organizations and 10 million won to Priest Cho, respectively, on Sept. 13, 2018. The case is pending at the appellate court.

Hyeong-Ju Lee peneye09@donga.com