Friday, December 7, 2007

Unearthing War’s Horrors Years Later in South Korea


I received this horrendous New York Times story from Michael Munk in Portland, Oregon. I would like to share it with you.

I hope you will view each photo and slide very closely; please note where it says there is a slide show. Click on each photo to enlarge it.

Please, please share this story with everyone you know. The crimes of U.S. imperialism committed against humanity must become known in every household in America.

I am sure there are such mass graves on every continent where U.$. "dollar diplomacy" has laid its dirty blood-drenched fingers to.

I am wondering why it has taken so long for this important story to break? These are among the most horrendous crimes against humanity; carried out at the instructions of our government, our military, and our secret international police agencies. Just look at the photographs; pictures of American soldiers actively participating in these gross atrocities against their fellow human beings. These victims of imperialism just several years before had been our best, most reliable, and bravest allies in defeating Japanese imperialism during World War II; all of which the New York Times remains disgustingly and shamefully silent in this story.

In this story from the New York Times is the implicit support for the barbaric foreign policy of U.S. imperialism in that the New York Times tries to distinguish between the victims as to who were communists and who were not. I find this to be morally repulsive to the point of vomiting.

Simply because people decide to study the scientific teachings of Marxism-Leninism in order to free themselves from capitalist rule and exploitation it seems the New York Times finds such monstrous, inhumane, barbaric human carnage carried out under a flying U.S. flag in another country to be acceptable.

A number of years ago the Wall Street Journal boasted that the police and armies under the leadership of the U.S. military in Central and South America had killed over fifteen million people who had been identified as "communists."

As a woman, as a mother, almost shameful of admitting I am an American except I know most people are as repulsed as I am in hearing of such "news." I have to add my voice in condemning these atrocities which are "made in the U.S.A." by those waving the American flag.

It is no wonder that the once famous American general, Smedley Butler, after announcing that he had been nothing more than a gangster for American companies was ostracized by the ruling class he had served so diligently.

No doubt Iraq's Communists are in for a similar treatment as these people in these photos and slides from South Korea show once the United States is done using them as a cover to create a picture of a developing democracy.

Again, in the New York Times story this mouthpiece for U.S. imperialism which had reporters all over Korea during the Korean War and knew that this was going on at the time never published one single word of these crimes against humanity as the NYT tried to whip our Nation into an anti-communist frenzy which served to silence the voices for peace and humanity in our own country, most notably the voices of members of the Communist Party USA.

Now the New York Times portrays events of the period as a "plague on both sides." When will these apologists for the barbaric atrocities committed by U.$ imperialism ever acknowledge their own responsibility in all of this. The New York Times, being the mouthpiece for U.S. imperialism in every war has always responded in the same way; first it supports the war, then as public sentiment grows in opposition it "questions" the war, and then it puts forward this crap about "we are against the war but we need to support our troops- we can't abandon them in the middle of their mission." Isn't this nice; we will have to wait another fifty years for the New York Times to publish the atrocities being committed by U.S. troops in Iraq today.

To me this is all very sad.

I find it very strange that Sam Webb and the Peoples Weekly World have remained silent concerning these atrocities uncovered in South Korea. It kind of makes me wonder where Webb's paycheck is coming from... perhaps FBI headquarters.

I also find it very strange that the atrocities being committed by the United States in Iraq are not front page news in every single edition of the PWW published. I am sure this has something to do with Sam Webb the perverted creep getting his paycheck from FBI headquarters, too; remember Jay Lovestone?

Rita Polewski


So far this letter has not published. Mike

December 3, 2007

To the Editor of the New York Times:

A photo attached to “Unearthing War’s Horrors Years Later in South Korea” (December 2) shows prisoners about to be shot and thrown into a pit in Taejon, in July 1950. The Times also ran an AP report about this massacre on January 7, 2000. In neither article did the Times report that American officers stood idly by taking photos of this atrocity, or that later the Joint Chiefs of Staff chose to suppress these photos, never to be revealed until an independent researcher, Do-Young Lee, got them declassified in 1999. Furthermore the Pentagon’s official history by Roy E. Appleman, South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, blamed this massacre (in which upwards of 4,000 people were slaughtered) entirely on the North Koreans, in spite of clear internal evidence to the contrary.

What happened in Taejon was not simply a merciless slaughter of political prisoners, but also the murder of people rounded up during the American Occupation (1945-48) for protesting against the conditions that Americans fostered or created. The police who carried out the Taejon massacre were part of a draconian agency built up under Japanese colonialism that the U.S. reemployed wholesale, leading to massive rebellions that got started in Taegu in 1946—where police also mowed down civilians. It would be good if our government developed the same concern for truth and its own responsibility that the Korean government has shown in unearthing these tragedies.

I am the author of The Origins of the Korean War (2 vols, Princeton, 1981 and 1990) .
Bruce Cumings
Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor
Chair, History Department
1126 E. 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
(773) 834-1818

On Dec 5, 2007, at 12:29 AM, Michael Munk wrote:

These atrocities are finally being documented in South Korea. When I was there in 1959-61, people were afraid to speak about them for fear of being imprisoned or executed as "Communists."

Mike Munk

Unearthing War’s Horrors Years Later in South Korea


New York Times: December 3, 2007

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 2 — Shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, Kim Man-sik, a military police sergeant, received an urgent radio message from the South Korean Army’s Counterintelligence Corps: Go to local police stations, take custody of scores of Communist suspects held there and execute them.

Mr. Kim complied. What he did and saw in those days is etched permanently in his mind.

“They were all tied together with military communications wire,” said Mr. Kim, now 81. “So when we opened fire, they all pulled at each other to try to escape. The wire cut into their wrists. Blood was splattered all over their white clothes.”

The South Korea Truth and Reconciliation Commission
A government excavation team works in a cobalt mine near Daegu, southern South Korea.
The South Korea Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Prisoners before their execution by troops in Taejon in 1950. The state is aiming for compensation or services for the victims.

That Mr. Kim’s story has emerged after half a century is a testament to this nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, modeled after the South African group set up in the 1990s to expose crimes and injustices committed during the apartheid era.

Unlike the situation in South Africa, where the truth commission started work soon after the collapse of the apartheid government, South Korea’s commission was not created for decades. During most of that time, the country was ruled by anti-Communist authoritarian governments that wanted to keep buried the history of violence against people who had been accused of being Communists. It was not until after President Roh Moo-hyun was elected that the country created the commission in 2005, starting a nationwide investigation to uncover the history of atrocities by each Korea.

Handicapped by a budget considered too small for such a vast task, the commission’s work has been slow. Beyond that, it can neither force people to testify nor offer immunity for testimony, so few veterans have been willing to come forward. Some victims have stayed away as well, unwilling to open old wounds between neighbors caught up in the ideological struggle decades ago. Still, the commission has made progress in confirming long-suppressed stories of mass executions and in recovering the remains of victims.

South Korean troops executed tens of thousands of unarmed civilians and prisoners as they retreated in advance of the North Korean invaders during the war, according to historians. The victims were often accused of being Communist sympathizers or collaborators.

The commission’s investigators have discovered the remains of hundreds of people — including women and children — who were killed without trial. They have also identified 1,222 probable instances of mass killings during the war.

The cases include 215 episodes in which survivors say American warplanes and ground troops killed unarmed civilians.

On Saturday, Lt. Col. Almarah Belk, a Pentagon spokeswoman in Washington, said she did not “have any information on investigations into new findings as it relates to deaths of Koreans during the Korean war by U.S. military action.”

In 2001, the Pentagon acknowledged that American soldiers shot and killed unarmed civilians near the South Korean hamlet of No Gun Ri in 1950, but said the deaths were a result of confusion, and even fear.

South Korean investigators in July began digging at 4 of 160 sites believed to have been used for mass burials, places that were off limits under the country’s authoritarian rulers. They have unearthed the remains of 400 people. Skeletons were found stacked on one another, with bullet holes in the skulls and hands still tied by rusting steel wire.

The remains confirmed witness accounts that the police often made victims crouch at the edge of a trench, their hands tied behind their backs, before shooting them in the head and pushing them in, said Park Sun-joo, who leads the excavation team.

“The fact that these bones have remained abandoned so long and so close to where we live means that our society is still at its barbarian stage,” said Kim Dong-choon, a commission member.

At one burial site, in Cheongwon, in central South Korea, 110 bodies have been found.

“I think they killed up to 7,000 people there,” said Park Jong-gil, one of the commission’s witnesses who said he saw the killings at Cheongwon as a teenager. “Every day for seven or eight days, I saw four trucks in the morning and three trucks in the afternoon coming loaded with people.”

In one of its strongest rulings so far, the commission said in July that killings in the village of Hampyong, in the country’s southwest, were “a crime against humanity.”

Chung Nam-sook, 80, one of the witnesses who spoke to commission investigators, said in a later interview that in December 1950, soldiers of the South Korean 11th Army Division stormed the village to hunt Communist guerrillas but instead attacked innocent villagers gathered in a field.

“They told us to light our cigarettes,” said Mr. Chung, who lived there. “Then they began shooting their rifles and machine guns. After a while, an officer called out, ‘Any of you who are still alive can stand up and go home now.’ Those who did were shot again.” Mr. Chung, who was shot seven times, survived by pretending to be dead under the heap of bodies.

In one 1950 atrocity, according to evidence presented to the commission, South Korean police officers intent on ferreting out Communists disguised themselves as a North Korean unit before entering villages around Naju, near Hampyong. When people welcomed them with Communist flags, they killed 97, the commission said.

As their town changed hands between the rival armies, historians said, villagers who had lost family members were quick to settle scores. More than 50 years later, families still hold grudges.

Despite the successes in uncovering mass killings, some victims and their relatives say they feel cheated because the commission was not granted the right to prosecute those who committed atrocities. Its mandate is to uncover the truth for the record, recommend corrections to textbooks and other records and aid reconciliation through compensation or services for the victims.

Ja Yong-soo’s father was among 218 victims of what the commission finally ruled last month to have been “unlawful killings” by Korean marines on the southern island of Cheju in 1950.

After being repeatedly ignored by previous governments, Mr. Ja and other victims’ relatives were rewarded last month when the commission finally ruled the killings unlawful. But any move to enact a special law to prosecute these atrocities is likely to set off protests by Korean conservatives. (The law would be needed because the statute of limitations has run out.)

“Many of those human butchers and their children are now rich and powerful,” Mr. Ja, 65, said. “What am I going to say when I die and meet my father in the heaven and he asks, ‘My son, what have you done to restore my honor?’”
Mr. Kim, the former soldier, admitted that he was in charge of executing 170 people at Hoengsong and Wonju around June 28, 1950.

He said some of those killed, the “Class A” group of active Communists, were “enemies” who had attacked police stations. “But those categorized as Class B and C were innocent peasants who were lured by the Communists’ promise to give them free land,” he said.

“Till today, I feel guilty for killing them,” he said. “I bow my head in contrition.”

Elisabeth Bumiller contributed reporting from Washington.

visit my website