For the title of this post I’ve borrowed the text from a notice at a site in Bukchon-ri, in the middle of the route of Olle 19. This typical Jeju rocky landscape has a dark history from the days of the Jeju 4.3 incident and is the burial site of children killed on 17th January 1949. Once again, I’ll use the text from the notice.
Bukchon-ri is a seaside village located in the east end of Jocheon-eup. During the Japanese colonial rule, there were many anti-Japanese activists from this village and after the liberation, independent organizations were very active in Bukchon-ri with the People’s Committee as the central organization.
- August 13th 1947 : Police shot at people who were pasting up leaflets. Three men were injured.
- April 21st 1948 : Armed guerrillas attacked the Bukchon-ri office of the National Election Commission and seized documents related to the general election.
- June 16th 1948 : Two policemen were killed by the armed guerrillas.
- December 16th 1948 : Soldiers massacred 24 civilians in Nansibille near Bukchon-ri.
- January 17th 1949: After two soldiers were killed by armed guerillas, the army massacred the residents of Bukcon-ri.
What happened in Bukchon-ri is an exemplary case of genocide which is strictly prohibited by the international laws even in wartime. On January 17th 1949, about 300 defenseless (sic) villagers in Bukchon-ri were killed regardless of age or sex. The Bukchon-ri Incident resulted in the highest number of people murdered in a single incident during the Jeju April 3rd Incident. The massacre was carried out in the fields and farms around Bukchon Elementary School.
It’s worth remembering that it was not legal to talk about the Jeju 4.3 massacres for several decades after they happened. Indeed, local writer Hyun Gi-young published a short novel, Aunt Suni, about the Bukchon-ri incident in 1979 and was arrested and tortured for doing so. It’s only very recently that the events have been publicly acknowledged and the important sites commemorated. A small museum now records the events of January 1949 in Bukchon-ri and the memorial below records the names of those who were killed.
This is an interesting part of the relationship with Japan. Was it the Japanese officials who banned people from speaking of it?
No, it all happened after the end of the Japanese occupation. It was the Korean authorities that banned people from talking about it.
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