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Monday, October 18, 2004

Political violence

Often Koreans and why not Finns as well like to find parallels with the modern history of the two nations. Sure, a small nation struggling to preserve or regain independence on the face of great powers and all that, but my advice is to regard the modern histories of the two nations as very different indeed. But one thing is common: intense political conflict and extreme political violence at the time of establishing the nation. But I guess we are understandably not going to hear about this when the friendship and good relations between the countries are being maintained.

Ohmynews has a piece about a memorial event for those who died as a consequence of the Yeosu-Suncheon (Yeosun) rebellion 56 years ago in 1948. This is a short description of the rebellion from a link provided by Oranckay (on-the-spot translation by AL):

In 1948 the coexistence of the right and left in the eastern Jeolla begun to break down. The continuous inflation, the worsening of living conditions due to for example grain outtakes (?, kongch'ul), and the movements against elections and other anti-government struggles began to spread throughout the country. These struggles also reached the eastern Jeolla, which was not part of the "harvest incidents" of 1946. Suncheon was the site of most frequent disturbances (?). At the time of these incidents, the 14th Regiment was founded in Yeosu, and that became a haven for leftist pursued by the police and for many unemployed driven loose by poverty. The regiment was also infiltrated by the South Korean Workers' Party (Namnodang). The ultra leftists led by lieutenant (? chungwi) Kim Chi-hoe, lieutenant Hong Sun-seok, master sergeant (sangsa) Ji Chang-su saw this as a chance for action, and when the unit was ordered to move to Jeju to suppress the rebellion, it started an armed rebellion.
Damn, taking a closer look this is from a site which provides term papers for a fee; don't want to erase that now that I've done it...

Anyway, the suppression of the rebellion/mutiny was ruthless, affecting people way beyond the actual rebels and leaving 3000 dead. The Ohmynews tells that the event was arranged in order for the bereaved families to be accepted as members of society and for a proper investigation (or research) for the truth behind the death of thousands without proper legal course back then.

Which cannot but call comparisons with what happened in the civil war here in 1918. The situation is that 86 years after the fact a researcher feels the need to point out in the preface to a study on the topic to claim neutrality that his forefathers didn't take part in the war.
Very same kind of methods of terror, extending the punitive measures beyond the leaders or perpetrators after painting the rebels (right or wrong) as beastly monsters that cannot be but done away with. Even the time which it took before the events begun to be discussed in public in other than the victors' view has been approximately the same.

Causes of war death 1918 according to the political affiliation
of the killed persons

Cause of death Reds Whites Others Total
Killed in action 5 199 3 414 790 9 403
Executed, shot, murdered 7 370 1 424 926 9 720
Died in prison camps 11 652 4 1 790 13 446
Died after being released 607 - 6 613
Missing 1 767 46 380 2 193
Other causes of death 443 291 531 1 265
Total 27 038 5 179 4 423 36 640


• Those who want to read an academic paper on the Yeosun incident which starts with a quote from Derrida, are kindly referred to "Violence in the representation of the Yôsun incident" (pdf file)

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