|Kwangju in the eyes of the world|
|Writer : 5·18eng Date : 2008-10-29 Hit : 3559|
Kwangju in the Eyes of the World Preface
The Kwangju Massacre took place from May 18 – May 27, 1980. It is already seventeen years later, but the stories keep pouring in. Once again, we have the opportunity to re-document what happened, to try to get the facts straight. This will perhaps be a feat that is never fully accomplished. Indeed, history eternally rewrites itself from the perspective of the continually evolving present.
Chum Doo Hwan and his successor, Roh Tae Woo, have finally been carted off to prison, and history smiles, knowing that they have finally received their just desserts. But is it ever enough? Can we ever fully punish with our courts and our prisons those who were responsible for events that never should have happened? Can one life ever pay for another, let alone hundreds of others?
The Kwangju Uprising of 1980 was, at its beginning and its end, a pro-democracy movement, whatever motives others have tried to assign to it. In terms of forwarding his own purposes, Chun’s move to quell the discontented populace, although it was a great show of strength, did little more than raise the demonstrators to the status of martyrs. In a sense, he plotted his own demise.
Chun compounded his mistake by attempting to cover up the atrocity of what he did, by distorting the facts, by lying to a public that was too weary to simply bite and chew. It was the falsifications and the continuing cover-ups that have prompted Kwangju’s citizens to perpetually set out to seek and document the truth.
In the search for truth, objectivity is always deemed the prerequisite. History, like science, demands a unimpassioned observer to chronicle its events. It hopes that, from his unbiased vantage point, this onlooker will be able to balance the scales, absorb the circumstances, intentions, motivations, and consequences, and come out with a story that tells the whole tale. Thus the modern world has chosen the foreign correspondent as its historian – hoping that his eyes, unmoved by patriotism or ideologic concerns, will not be blinded; praying that his story, unfettered by censorship or national security concerns, will be related in its entirety.
Perhaps we ask too much. Their stories are inevitably prescribed by circumstances – the luck of being in the right place at the right time – and the concerns of their editors. But then, as now, they are all we have. Their voice is the voice that shall be believed. They can communicate when others are forced into silence.
This book is a collection of the experiences of these purveyors of truth. It is hard to find a precedent for this book – a situation in which a group of correspondents retraced their steps back over seventeen years. For those who could face once again what happened in that dark time, this book recounts what they witnessed. These are the testimonies of the foreign correspondents who covered the Kwangju Massacre of May 18, 1980.
Nam Young Jin
Chief of the Journalists Association of Korea
Lee Sang Ha
Chairman of Moo-deung Ilbo
Yong Jan Hyun, Park Man Kyu and Jung Woong Tai
Co-chairmen of Kwangju Citizens' Solidarity
Copyright 1997, Kwangju Citizens' Solidarity
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