Truth-Seeking for Jeju and the Debates on Compliance

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S/N Korean Humanities Vol.4 No.2 pp.67-92 ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)

Ñusta Carranza Ko
Ohio Northern University

Received August 1, 2018; Revised version received August 25, 2018; Accepted September 5, 2018


The April 3 Incident in the Island of Jeju marked one of the gravest human rights violations in Korean history involving a majority of victims who were non-politically motivated innocent civilians caught in the crossfire between the state, foreign actors, and a leftist political party and its armed affiliates. The violence, which continued from 1947 to 1954, resulted in the highest number of casualties, following that of the Korean War (1950-1953). Despite the gravity of the human rights violations, it was only after South Korea transitioned to a democracy and prosecuted two former heads of states that the state engaged in efforts to address the April 3 Incident. This study examines the Special Act for the Investigation of the Jeju April 3 Incident and Recovering the Honor of Victims (1999) and the National Committee for the Investigation of the Truth about the Jeju April 3 Events, which established the Jeju April 3 Commission (2000). Specifically, the study focuses on the status of state compliance with the list of recommendations and article provisions from the Special Act and the National Committee, which included policies for truth-seeking, reparations, and accountability measures for the state. The article finds that while on truth-seeking and symbolic reparations the state reflected a good record of complying with the recommendations, on financial and medical reparations, and criminal accountability measures, the state was relatively less proactive in compliance. The selective level of compliance from the state provides some insight as to the state’s respect for these policies and the possible conditions that may have resulted in the differences of state behavior.

Key Words : National Committee for the Investigation of the Truth about the Jeju April 3 Events, Jeju April 3 Commission, Jeju April 3 Incident, Truth Commissions, Reparations, South Korea

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