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Moon urges end to ideological rift over 1980 Gwangju pro-democracy uprising

All Headlines 10:45 May 18, 2019

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in called Saturday for the cessation of wasteful political strife over the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju, saying South Korea still owes a huge debt to people there.

Attending the 39th anniversary of the bloody movement against the then military junta led by Chun Doo-hwan, he again offered an apology, as the country's sitting president, for the homicides.

He lamented continued reckless remarks by some politicians and scholars to distort or play down the truth behind the historic event.

"As a Korean, I feel tremendous shame when facing the reality of preposterous remarks denying and insulting the May 18 Democratization Movement still being uttered out loud without any hesitation," he said in a speech at the ceremony held in the city, 268 kilometers south of Seoul.

Earlier this year, three lawmakers with the conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party came under fire for publicly describing the Gwangju uprising as a riot, linking it with North Korea or insulting the bereaved families of the victims.

More than 20 years ago, Moon said, "We already reached a national consensus in this way about the historic significance and nature of the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement and brought relevant legal matters to a close."

"No more controversies about this issue are necessary now. They would simply be a meaningless waste," he stressed. "The truth about May 18 cannot differ between conservatives and liberals."

The junta sent tank-led paratroopers to crack down on the nine-day uprising, initiated by college students and later joined by many other citizens. More than 200 people were killed and 1,800 others wounded.


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