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U.S. offers to S. Korea declassified documents on 1980 pro-democracy movement: ministry

Diplomacy 16:04 May 12, 2020

SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) -- The United States has provided South Korea with declassified diplomatic documents on a 1980 pro-democracy movement here, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, raising hopes that the documents could shed more light on a bloody military crackdown on the uprising.

On Monday, Washington handed over copies of about 140 pages of State Department documents, including those produced by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, regarding the May 18 movement in the southwestern city of Gwangju.

Many of the documents are unredacted versions of documents that Washington had previously declassified with some parts deleted, Kim In-chul, the ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.

Relevant government agencies and experts will first pore over the documents before deciding whether the general public will have access to them, he added.

This photo, taken on April 23, 2019, shows Kim In-chul, the spokesman of the foreign ministry, speaking at a press briefing at the ministry in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Led by the junta of then Gen. Chun Doo-hwan, who took power in a military coup after the assassination of President Park Chung-hee in 1979, the crackdown resulted in hundreds of deaths in Gwangju, now dubbed the cradle of the country's democracy.

The handover of the documents came after the ministry asked the U.S. in November to consider declassifying documents related to the movement amid public calls to uncover the truth behind the deadly quashing of the movement.

"Our government will continue consultations with the U.S. so that more U.S. documents regarding the pro-democracy movement will be released," the ministry said in a press release.


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