▲ Jeong Gi-seong is one of the victims of the court martials seeking to clear his name. Photo courtesy Jeju MBC
Although we will never know the exact number of victims claimed by the Jeju April 3 Massacre, records are clear about the number tried and even executed in allegedly illegal military courts: 2,530.
Reporter Kim Chan says only 41 remain alive, most in their 80s, and he is determined that they will see justice before they die.
“Almost all of them are normal people like me or you. Although some of them resisted the police or military, they cannot be blamed; it was the nature of that period.”
Kim interviewed the survivors as part of a special April 3 documentary to be aired by Jeju MBC on the upcoming anniversary.
He wants all victims of the court martials between December 1948 and July 1949 to be exonerated and hopes the show can help dispel lingering prejudice against them.
▲ Reporter Chan Kim wants more people to know about this shameful chapter in Jeju's history. Photo courtesy Chan Kim
“I want to show that they are not criminals and it can be proved that the military courts were illegal,” he said, adding: “Even Jeju people don't know what happened on their own island. Only by uncovering historic truth can we build a future together.”
Even now, says Kim, he is ashamed by the continued attempts to silence them.
“I felt deeply ashamed. They are clear victims, but they are scared and defensive. The government killed, threatened, tortured and spied on people who spoke out about April 3. Even now the government is trying to cast doubt on them. It is shameful.”
Kim believes the government knows the trials were illegal, but is cautious of being hit with compensation claims, and so he is proceeding with a lawsuit to clear their names.
“They don’t resent the government for its behavior during 4.3, and have even been living with guilt for those who died. Although their lives have been beset by tragedy, they believe they are not the real victims,” said Kim.
Kim Chan’s "The Unfinished Trails: airs on Jeju MBC at 11:15pm on Friday, April 3.
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