Thursday, May 18, 2006

5.18 - Those who fell under the paratroopers' clubs

Today marks the 26th anniversary of the beginning of the Kwangju Uprising.

I've written about the uprising before, looking at the escalation of violence during the first three days of the uprising (which provides an overview of those days), at narratives of the uprising in several different media, and at the campaign to revoke medals given to soldiers who took part in suppressing the uprising, as well as how students in Kwangju view the uprising, a list of books and essays in English about the uprising, and a look at US media coverage of the uprising.

In The Kwangju Uprising, Kim Chung-keun, of the Donga Ilbo, describes what happened when the paratroopers of the 7th Brigade left the university campuses they had secured and arrived downtown to suppress the demonstration that their brutal behavior on and near those campuses had helped spark.
When the martial law army showed up in the heart of the city for the first time - I was there - they paraded in front of the Provincial Hall in a very official way. They formed up ranks, and when they marched, they marched in columns. [...] It was done in a very orderly way. The soldiers formed up in lines, spacing themselves as the drillbooks require. Then, off they went, marching towards the heart of the demonstration. Stones struck them, Molotov cocktails set their sleeves on fire. Paying no attention, they kept formation and marched ahead. The demonstrators stepped aside to let them pass, and the soldiers went on towards the core of the demo in the heart of Gumnam-ro. As the column passed through them, the demonstrators closed up behind them.

Then an order was shouted. The soldiers broke ranks, dashing into the demonstrators around them, beating them mercilessly with their heavy sticks. This was not a strategy for nudging a crowd or a demo off a street from one side - as in Pusan or Masan the previous year - to get the streets back to normal and open and functioning. It was a strategy of terror, a blitzkrieg. [...]

The boundary that had existed between the soldiers and the crowd was eliminated. It vanished in the midst of a melee, a free-for-all with no holds barred and no rules. The soldiers smashed out with their clubs at all and sundry, regardless of age, sex or anything else. [...]

Words fail me in seeking to describe what I saw. "Brutality." "Outrage." "Indiscriminate assault." The words fall short, way short, of the reality. I came up with this expression: "hunting humans", or "Human hunting."

From Memories of May 1980: A Documentary History of the Kwangju Uprising in Korea, come these "Examples of Casualties on May 18th" (who are all male, except for one):

Yi Chong-nam, 27
Assaulted by paratroopers next to Taehan Theatre near Bus Terminal at 4:50, received medical treatment for lacerations on scalp, contusion and abrasion on right hand and lower leg, and fracture of right hand, fifth finger bone.

Yi Chong-an, 25, Insurance company employee
Was making an insurance contract at a store near Tourist Hotel past 12 o'clock, when assaulted by batons, gun butts and military boots and arrested by three paratroopers. Released on May 25 while receiving treatment at Armed Forces Hospital.

Kim Myong-ho, 44
Paratroopers carrying M16s with fixed bayonets broke into home at 80-2 Nam-dong at 7:30 pm, struck and assaulted residents with gun butts. Destroyed house, smashing windows and doors, claiming to search for students in hiding.

Yi Kun-jae, 58
Assaulted on way back from provincial government building to rear entrance of Jungang elementary school while protesting against paratroopers stripping and beating several female students near wall of rear entrance.

Kim Yong-chol, 32, Carpenter
Assaulted by paratroopers near MBC on way home by foot at 8pm because there were no buses.

Kim Kyu-jin, 50, Teacher
Kicked in waist, struck with gun butts and assaulted in front of Catholic Center at 3 pm, lost four front teeth.

Kim Nam-il, 48, driver
Assaulted by paratroopers near Kwangju park at 3 pm, right forearm fractured, then taken to police. Sent to Armed Forces Hospital on May 20 (contusions on upper right limb, face, side, and left leg).

Kim Tae-ho, 28, agricultural worker
Was riding a bus to friends house because transportation to go home from visiting a flu clinic in Yu-dong was blocked, when paratroopers fired tear gas bombs, stopped the bus, got on, dragged him off, and assaulted him on charges of demonstrating, and dragged him to Chonnam National University after he lost consciousness. Transferred to prison on 21st, assaulted by troops of 20th division in jail. Released July 3.

Kim Pom-dong, 34, cook
When he was witnessing a woman getting her clothes ripped off, being kicked and collectively beaten by 3 paratroopers in front of Kwangju Cheil high school barbershop at 3 pm, during work as a cook at a Chinese restaurant near entrance to Chungjang 5-ga, 30-40 troops suddenly poured in from Kumnam 5-ga, approached and destroyed the restaurant window, and collectively beat him into unconsciousness.

Kim Tae-ran, 39, Standing Committee member of Tongildang (Democratic Unification Party)
Assaulted and taken by martial law troops during demonstration on Kumnam 5-ga at 5pm, handicap to spine and urinary organs due to indiscriminate torture after they discovered Tongildang membership pass. Died in June 1984 due to aftereffects of torture.

Kim Chong-sop, 35, civil servant
Attended colleagues wedding at 2pm, then was riding a bus to Bus terminal at 3:30 to go home when paratroopers forced everybody off the bus and moved them on foot to Tongyang Steel on Kumnamno. There he was assaulted with riot baton on back of head, lost consciousness, and collapsed.

Kim Kwi-sik, 21, University student
Upon hearing news of extended curfew on way home to Kwangju from a trip to Yosu with five friends, got off at South Kwangju station and walked along railroad track till arrival in front of Chosun University at 9-10 pm. Caught by paratroopers stationed there. 10 paratroopers took turns punishing the six for about two hours, threatening them with fixed bayonet M16s against their foreheads and beating them with gun butts.

Park Chong-hwa, 20
Had come to Kwangju on motorcycle to pick up his brother (high school student) and was passing in front of Mudang stadium when paratroopers assaulted and took him to police. Released from Sangmudae (base) three months later. Suffered mental disorder thereafter and died.

Paek Hong-nam, 35, Housewife
Struck on right side of the head by five paratroopers in front of Catholic center. Required 13 stitches.

Yang Sam-gun, 29, Printer
Was riding by bicycle for personal business during work at Honam printing shop in Taein-dong when he witnessed dozens of armed soldiers suddenly appear from Kumnamno area and assault all young people who came into sight. Escaped to a nearby restaurant but paratroopers chased him and beat him mercilessly.

Yang Il-jun, 29, technician
Assaulted and taken by paratroopers in Sinan-dong at 2 pm. Taken to Armed forces hospital and received medical treatment for more than one month.

Yun Yong-chol, 25, driver
Was in Chilsong Billiards hall in Puk-dong at 4pm when 10 paratroopers armed with bayonets ran in and beat him in the head, face and sides with batons and kicked him with military boots. He passed out on the spot. The paratroopers stole his watch.

Yi Sung-min, 49, commercial worker
Assaulted by paratroopers who intruded into a store next to Kwangju fire station and 2 pm and lost consciousness.

Chang Han-won, 27, driver
Was driving truck back to house in Sansu-dong and was about to step back into truck after a check at Kyerim police box when paratroopers beat him with riot baton from behind. Protested, but paratroopers continued assault until he lost consciousness and was taken away, then sent to Armed forces hospital.

Chang Song-am, 23
Assaulted by seven paratroopers with batons, military boots, and gun butts, between Soochang elementary school and bus terminal at 2 pm, then passed out.

Chong Yong-uk, 21, student
Was innocently entering school with friends through front gate of Chosun University at 12-1 pm after visiting a friends house, when he was caught, kicked, and assaulted by paratroopers.

Cho Kap-tae, 16, employee at restaurant
Went outside at 5 pm to check source of noise, but was collectively assaulted by two paratroopers on Kumnamno.

Kim Mak-tong, 25, architect
Was waiting for bus to Changhung to depart from bus terminal at 3 pm to receive reserve forces training, when paratroopers suddenly stepped inside the bus, dragged him off the bus and assaulted him on head with riot batons.

Yu Byong-yang, 25, driver
Picked up 5 students in Kwangchon-dong in taxi and was going towards Chonnam National University when a paratrooper who had been beating 20 male and female students lying face down on the street in front of Johan hospital in Im-dong saw taxi and stopped it for inspection. Protested they were passengers, but paratrooper ruthlessly hit back of head with gun butt; escaped by driving away in nearly senseless condition.

Ha Hon-nam, 29
Was stabbed by bayonets wielded by paratrooper, and fell unconscious in front of main office of Kwangju bank on Kumnamno around 8 pm while returning home. Transferred to Kim orthopedic clinic thereafter.

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