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The 4.3 Massacre: Wading through the convoluted history
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승인 2011.04.11  08:55:19
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▲ Intern Koh Yu Kyung and reporter Christian Yetter interview one of the dozens of Jeju citizens who generously gave their time to The Weekly’s April 3 Massacre coverage. Photo by Darryl Coote

When I presented the idea to The Jeju Weekly of doing a special series on the Jeju April 3 Massacre about six months ago, I had no idea how difficult it would be for all of us at the paper.

The process started off smoothly. We researched and conducted interviews like we normally do, but this was a project of an entirely different sort, one that I had not come across before in my young journalism career.

The history of the massacre has been the victim of numerous revisions throughout its 63 years, resulting in an abundance of conflicting facts and figures. No source could be trusted and no fact concrete. Words carried more weight than I had ever experienced before, and there is still much being circulated with important information that has been selectively omitted.

And to me, this is wrong.

I first learned of the massacre while an English teacher on the island. During a summer camp we took a field trip to the April 3rd Peace Park Museum. We entered the memorial where all the names of known Jeju citizens who died during the massacre were immortalized on the wall. Most of my middle school students meandered about waiting to get back on the bus, except for one, a little girl who went by the name of Sunny. She was gazing up at one of the names on the wall and began to cry. She told me that it was her grandfather. She had never met him, but something moved her to tears. Maybe it was just being young and confronting this issue for the first time. I don’t know. But if I had to guess I would assume that she was crying out of confusion, a confusion as to why her grandfather died, not how, but why.

And if we at The Jeju Weekly can shed even the smallest sliver of light through this confusion, then it was worth the sleepless nights worrying about facts and the wading through endless piles of misinformation trying to understand this personal and painful history.

If you have any comments about our April 3 Massacre coverage feel free to email us at editor@jejuweekly.com

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