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Part I: The Summary of the Investigation Result on the Gwangju Incident
Date : 2008-11-18     Hit : 3978
This is a summary of the investigation result of the May 18 Incident and the related political events before and after the incident published on July 18, 1995 as was disclosed by the Seoul District Public Prosecutor's Office and the Prosecution Bureau of the Ministry of Defense. The prosecutors had invested 269 relevant people and examined and conferred various relevant materials for the investigation. These materials draw a clear map of the modern history in Korea from the extension of the Martial Law, through the suppression of the demonstration in Gwangju and the course of political situations after the Gwangju incident, to the ascendency of the former president Jeon Duhwan into power. These materials considered an invaluable resources in understanding the role of Jeon Duhwan's military faction, the origin of the Gwangju Democratization Movement, the retirement of the former president Choe, and General Jeon's coming into power.
1.1. Facts Confirmed through the Investigation
 
1.1.1. The extension of the Martial Law and the arrest of politicians were sanctioned by Choe Gyuha after being notified.
1.1.2. The extension of the Martial Law, the arrest of politicians, the prohibition of politician's activities, and establishment of the National Security Committee were initiated by the commander of the Armed Forces Intelligence Command, Jeon Duhwan without any direction of President Choe Gyuha.
1.1.3. The extension of the Martial Law was imposed to take control of the political situation.
1.1.4. The series of the events were a process of political change for General Jeon to procure the political power.
1.1.5. The Gwangju Incident was not intended in advance.
1.1.6. The allegation that Gim Daejung was the mastermind behind the Gwangju Incident turned out to be groundless.
1.1.7. Firing of the troops in Gwangju was begun to defend and threat when they were put on the defensive. None of the commanders issued the order to fire.
1.1.8. The paratroopers were under a single commanding system. They did not operate of their own.
1.1.9. The demonstrators began to capture the arms and ammunitions after the firing of the airborne units.
1.1.10. There was no volley of machine gun from helicopter or using of a flame thrower. But bayonets were used.
1.1.11. There were incidents in which unarmed innocent people were shot to death.

 
1.2. Investigation Result

The prosecutors investigated unproven issues about the Gwangju Incident which raised numerous controversies in the past. The following are the issues clarified by the prosecutors, which would be helpful to understand the truth of the Gwangju Democratization Movement.

1.2.1. As to the claim that the military faction staged an insurrection

 
On May 13, 1994, Jeong Dongnyeon (the chair of the Gwangju Uprising Association), Gim Sanggeun (the co-chair of the National Association for Fact-Finding and Inheritance of the Spirit of Gwangju Uprising) and other people related to Gwangju Incident indicted and accused the former presidents, Jeon Duhwan and No Tae-u along with other 35 military unit commanders.
 
The indictment says that the process of the General Jeon's ascendency into power was against the constitution and a usurpation of the power by Jeon's military faction. The military faction "rebelled to disturb the constitution and in that process manipulated the army for the usurpation of the power. Thus they committed treason violating the military law and committed murder and attempted murder."
 
Based on the accusation, prosecutors investigated 269 people and produced 217-page- long. documents which will be of great help to clarify the Gwangju Democratization movement.
 
The prosecutors, after investigation, reached a significant conclusion. They declared that series of actions which might have implicated illegality or unconstitutionality at least superficially took place with sanction or approval of President Choe Gyuha.
 
For example, such measures as appointment of Jeon Duhwan to the acting chair of the Korea Central Intelligence Agency, extension of the Martial Law, dispatch of the martial army into Gwangju, and suppression of the demonstration and establishment of the National Security Committee were within the scope of proper administration of the president.
 
They also disclosed that on the other hand the series of the measures taken by Jeon's faction were nothing but a political change with the purpose of creating a new constitutional order and regime on the basis of the military power led by the commander of National Security Committee.

 
1.2.2. Process of shooting by the troops
The plaintiffs insisted that there is a possibility that the firing by the troops was planned and ordered. The prosecuting attorneys clarified that the first shooting was initiated by paratroopers on May 19, 1980 near Gwangju High School. However, they concluded that it was not planned in advance to instigate the citizens of Gwangju nor it was ordered by a specific person independent from the formal chain of command.

 
1.2.3. The dual chain of command of the army units dispatched to Gwangju
The plaintiffs insisted that there was an independent chain of command of the army units dispatched to Gwangju from the formal chain of command as planned in advance. However the result of the investigation asserted that the dispatch to and retreat from Gwangju of the 7th airborne brigade followed by the 11th and the 3rd brigades were under the command of the 31 division commander Jeong Ung and the Combat Training Commander Yun Heungjeong. The operation of re-entry into Gwangju was ordered by the Combat Training Commander under the command of the martial law command with consultation of the Special Operations Command. The conclusion put it that there was no dual chain of command.

 
1.2.4. There was no intended instigation of bloody incident.
The plaintiffs insisted that there was a scenario planned in advance to instigate the citizens to break in the armories and to arm themselves to create and find an excuse for the forceful re-entry to the city. The investigation says that the police and the army were so much preoccupied by the suppression of demonstration that they were not able to intentionally make possible the break-ins.

 
1.2.5. The possibility of strafing from helicopters
Priest Jo Bio, Buddhist monk I Gwang-yeong, and Reverend Arnold Peterson asserted that there were incidents of strafing from helicopters. However, the investigation shows that there were no strafing incident but some force demonstration of helicopters for 48 hours in Gwangju. Ms. Hong Ran and Sim Dongseon were casualties of common gun shot though they were supposed to be strafed by helicopters. The red flashlight of a helicopter in the picture of Reverend Peterson is considered as a light to prevent collision.

 
1.2.6. The possibility of using bayonets and flame throwers
The investigation shows that the paratroopers used bayonets without being ordered to use them on the spot while suppressing demonstration. But there was no evidence of flame throwers being used.

 
1.2.7. The possibility of shooting at the unarmed civilians
The investigation shows that five to six arrested demonstrators were suffocated by tear gas and beaten to death in a truck while the five battalions of the 3rd airborne brigade were moving them to a prison.
In addition, the 62nd battalion of the 11th airborne brigade fired at a minibus to kill 10 passengers and shot two severely wounded to death. The 62nd battalion of the 11th airborne brigade also shot four villagers to death after mistakenly confronting and exchanging gun shots with the guards of the Combat Training Command.

 
1.2.8. The number of casualties
The investigation based on the government documents shows that the number of killed during the incident was 23 soldiers, four policemen, and 166 civilians. 47 people acknowledged to be missing and compensated. However, the investigators claimed that it was not possible to reach a correct figure at the moment of investigation.
 
The prosecutors concluded that there was no planned scenario of demonstration and ensuing suppression, saying, "It is difficult to assume that the dispatch of the paratroopers to Gwangju was done with specific intention, and that the new military faction planned to intentionally instigate the bloody suppression." Accordingly, there was no riot which the plaintiffs claimed and which is the basis to form a insurrection to the accused.
 
 
 
Source: http://gshin.chonnam.ac.kr/cnu518/4documents.htm#Part%20I:%20The%20Summary
Rights: The May 18 Institute/Prof. Shin
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