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Defense ministry to express regret over Jeju incident

Defense 15:17 April 02, 2019

SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry will for the first time officially express regret this week over a bloody government-civilian clash on the southern island of Jeju from 1948-1954, a ministry official said Tuesday.

On behalf of Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, who is currently on a trip in Washington, Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk will commemorate the victims and express regret for the bloodshed at Gwanghwamun Square on Wednesday or Thursday, the official said.

More than 10,000 Jeju islanders are estimated to have been killed and nearly 3,600 to have gone missing during the tragedy, an outgrowth of Korea's ideological division following its liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

"Vice Minister Suh will not attend an official memorial ceremony slated to take place (at the square) Wednesday morning, but he will visit a commemorative place there and express regrets over the sacrifices of innocent citizens," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The ministry has described the incident as an "armed revolt" that the then-government quashed through the mobilization of military and police forces. It has not expressed regret or apologized for the incident.

When asked about whether the ministry has a plan to apologize for the incident, Col. Roh Jae-cheon, the deputy ministry spokesman, said that it is still "reviewing" the issue.

"I understand that (the ministry) will express its position on the matter in any way," he said during a regular press briefing.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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