By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent Sun May 18, 1:26 PM ET
SEOUL, South Korea - One journalist's bid to report mass murder in South Korea in 1950 was blocked by his British publisher. Another correspondent was denounced as a possibly treasonous fabricator when he did report it. In South Korea, down the generations, fear silenced those who knew.
Fifty-eight years ago, at the outbreak of the Korean War, South Korean authorities secretively executed, usually without legal process, tens of thousands of southern leftists and others rightly or wrongly identified as sympathizers. Today a government Truth and Reconciliation Commission is working to dig up the facts, and the remains of victims.
How could such a bloodbath have been hidden from history?
Among the Koreans who witnessed, took part in or lost family members to the mass killings, the events were hardly hidden, but they became a "public secret," barely whispered about through four decades of right-wing dictatorship here.
"The family couldn't talk about it, or we'd be stigmatized as leftists," said Kim Chong-hyun, 70, leader of an organization of families seeking redress for their loved ones' deaths in 1950.
Kim, whose father was shot and buried in a mass grave outside the central city of Daejeon, noted that in 1960-61, a one-year democratic interlude in South Korea, family groups began investigating wartime atrocities. But a military coup closed that window, and "the leaders of those organizations were arrested and punished."
Then, "from 1961 to 1988, nobody could challenge the regime, to try again to reveal these hidden truths," said Park Myung-lim of Seoul's Yonsei University, a leading Korean War historian. As a doctoral student in the late 1980s, when South Korea was moving toward democracy, Park was among the few scholars to begin researching the mass killings. He was regularly harassed by the police.
Scattered reports of the killings did emerge in 1950 — and some did not.
British journalist James Cameron wrote about mass prisoner shootings in the South Korean port city of Busan — then spelled Pusan — for London's Picture Post magazine in the fall of 1950, but publisher Edward Hulton ordered the story removed at the last minute.
Earlier, correspondent Alan Winnington reported on the shooting of thousands of prisoners at Daejeon in the British communist newspaper The Daily Worker, only to have his reporting denounced by the U.S. Embassy in London as an "atrocity fabrication." The British Cabinet then briefly considered laying treason charges against Winnington, historian Jon Halliday has written.
Associated Press correspondent O.H.P. King reported on the shooting of 60 political prisoners in Suwon, south of Seoul, and wrote in a later memoir he was "shocked that American officers were unconcerned" by questions he raised about due process for the detainees.
Some U.S. officers — and U.S. diplomats — were among others who reported on the killings. But their classified reports were kept secret for decades.
Is there anything more horrible than people killing other people for something that doesn't exist? Its like something from a horror movie, where a character has gone insane and is murdering people without knowing it.
1. Soldiers must follow the orders of the officers without question. The officers put alot of effort into making sure of this.
2. The officers follow the orders of other officers, up through the ranks, to the top officer, who follows the orders of the government.
3. The government is a group of people that manage the land and the people (typically obtaining consent through deception, and usually for their personal benefit). Part of their deception is that "countries" exist, and that we should die or kill others to defend them. Countries do not exist; they are man made fictions.
Why would people want to kill other people for something that doesn't exist? Born and raised in the illusion, with the truth kept carefully hidden, they believe that the illusion is true. They will kill for the illusion. The illusion must be maintained for this to occur.
What I wonder, is whether there is something going on in the soldiers' heads; is there some voice crying out when they fire their bullets into their fellow men? For their own sakes, these soldiers must go through life afterwards fully immersed in the illusion. For as soon as they find out that it isn't true, their acts will be instantly transformed from the lie they previously believed, to the act of murder that it really was. Can they forget the truth and return to the illusion, to escape their self-condemning guilt?
I think what you mentioned above is what is occurring to the Iraq Veterans Against The War (IVAW). They have broken through parts of the illusion and must now live with that guilt for the rest of their lives. The public does not know the burden these men and women must carry because the public has been indoctrinated to worship these people as heroes from the beginning of school and enforced through the media. Perhaps more people should have listened to Donovan and Buffy St Marie in universal soldier.
Thanks Ed. I must respectfully disagree with something Buffy Sainte-Marie said.
"It made me question--who is responsible for war? Was it these guys? [Referring to the Vietnam soldiers in her story.] You can't just point your finger at them. Although they were there. Or maybe its Generals. Maybe it was the Generals who make a career of telling these guys what to do. But maybe that doesn't go far enough. Who tells the Generals what to do? Who points the Generals and the army at someone else? Ah, its the politicians. But here I am, flying on the way to Toronto, and I had to farther. By the time I got to the Purple Onion I said, who elects the politicians? Ah, its us."
She (in my opinion) incorrectly places the blame on all of the people. I hope that she has kept thinking about this. Some things to consider:
Who generates the illusion of the "country" that we must fight and die for?
Who needs us to believe that a "country" exists to maintain power?
What is the point of a "country"?
Who does history expose as tricking the people into fighting wars time and time again?
Did the common people as a whole make up the illusion and agree amongst themselves that is was true?
Did the common people as a whole instigate the wars which caused the common people to die in the millions?
Yes, if no man or woman would agree to fight for the deceivers and their illusion, most wars would not be possible. But they are not the cause, they are the symptom.
The people also consist of someone such as yourself who can see through the illusion. Sadly they are the minority.
So where do we go from here? I guess that is a question that must be asked everyday. However an atrocity such as the one above should be passed around. It is one of the many examples of the massacres governments have committed.