The Korean people cannot forget the Kwangju massacre. More than 3,000 people were killed there in 1980 by the south Korean military.
That's why today students throughout south Korea are battling cops. They are demanding that Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo be brought to justice. These two former generals who became presidents had led the hand-picked troops in crushing the Kwangju uprising.
For nine days during May 1980, the people in Kwangju-- located in the southwestern corner of the Korean peninsula-- had freed themselves from a fascist military regime. Even the correspondent of Time magazine was forced to admit that it was reminiscent of "liberated Paris or Rome during World War II."
This brief experience of freedom came to an end in the early morning hours of May 26, 1980. Four brigades of paratroopers and part of the 20th Division of the south Korean army attacked the Kwangju Commune. For days the south Korean army attacked its own people with M-45 tanks and massive artillery shelling.
While the troops were Korean, the tanks and artillery were made in the U.S.
The hands of Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo were covered with the blood of the insurgents. But it was U.S. General John Wickham who released south Korean troops under his command to participate in this massacre.
That's why today 2,000 police are guarding the homes of Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo and five busloads of cops have also surrounded the U.S. Embassy.
Thirty-eight thousand U.S. troops continue to occupy south Korea.
The entire south Korean police force--a total of 130,000-- has been put on alert against these protests. Their massive use of clubs and teargas has not been able to stop the demonstrations.
The national student group Hanchongryon called on Sept. 29 for a two-day boycott of classes.
In downtown Seoul, 10,000 students occupied streets. Banks and other businesses were forced to close as the students defended themselves with sticks against the clubs of the police.
Earlier the same day, 700 students at Sogang University in Seoul ran through teargas. Some threw firebombs at the cops.
These students--who have the support of workers--are also condemning the current regime of President Kim Young-sam. Kim ran an election campaign trying to look like an opposition figure, but has since co-opted himself into the militarized, big-business Liberal Democratic Party.
This is the same regime that keeps the hated "National Security Law" on the books. This act authorizes the death penalty for anyone who visits--or even writes to--a loved one in the socialist Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Kim must be surprised at the ferocity of these protests, for they are happening in the middle of an economic boom. The south Korean gross domestic product increased 9.6 percent over the last year.
What can the south Korean rulers expect when the economy starts to slump?
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