Jeju is called ‘the island of peace,’ because of its beautiful landscape. However, alongside Jeju’s remarkable natural heritage there lies a tragic history unknown to many. It’s called ‘4·3 massacre.’
On March 1, 1947, people gathered at Gwandeokjeong for the celebration of Independence movement day (Independence from Japanese colonial rule.) Because the police killed 6 people on this date the citizens of Jeju became agitated. This led to the US military backed mainland police and the northwest young men’s association to take supressing actions against the citizens of Jeju.
In response, on April 3, 1948, Jeju citizens attacked a police sub-station and right-wing organizations under the banner of opposition to independent elections (as oppossed to the elections for a north/south unified Korean) and the independent government.
On May 10, 1948, there were nobody in the village, because the soldiers(the armed troop) made every people climb a mountain to cancel the 5.10 election. On November 17, the martial law was proclaimed, the people in coastal area were considered mobs and be shot dead. In March, 1949, colonel Yu Jae-heung announced “If you descend a mountain, we will spare your life.” Then many refugees descend a mountain.
On June 26, 1950, the Korean war broke out, and the prisoners of 4·3 massacre were punished immediately. In 1954, 4·3 massacre came to an end.
The JDC junior journalists went to Bukchon village to learn more about 4·3 massacre. Photo by Windy Island team (The 4th JDC junior journalist program)
Bukchon village is the most damaged village. The soldiers set afire all the houses and killed about 400 people in a body at Bukchon elementary school. This village is also the background of novel ‘Uncle Suni.’ Lee Jae-hu, a survivor of 4·3 massacre said, “There were even no tears from every people, because it was overly sad.”
The tower of Epigyny, Peace, and Prosperity. Photo by Windy Island team (The 4th JDC junior journalist program)
Next to Bukchon elementary school , there is the tower of Epigyny, Peace and Prosperity. This tower was built to ward off misfortune and to pray for the village’s peace and development.
The nightmare of 4·3 massacre still remain in Jeju people’s mind. Not only Jeju’s lanscape, also its history should receive attention.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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