An airborne battalion commander kept record of first shooting during Gwangju Democratization Movement

Lt. Col. Lee was present when soldiers opened fire on civilians

An airborne battalion commander’s record of indiscriminate shooting by martial law forces during the events of the May 1980 Gwangju Democratization Movement has been uncovered for the first time. Many are insisting that an investigation commission should be quickly established to identify who issued the order to open fire on civilians and to examine issues raised in reports by the Hankyoreh, including false claims that victims were carrying carbine rifles and allegations of secret burials and civilian massacres.

In a paper (titled “Analysis of Data on the Military’s Distortions and Fabrications Concerning May 18 in Gwangju”) presented on May 17 at the May 18 Academic Forum organized by the May 18 Memorial Foundation, “Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of an Era” co-author Lee Jae-ui shared a record kept by a lieutenant colonel surnamed Lee who commanded the 62nd Battalion of the 11th Special Forces Brigade (Airborne) during the events of May 1980. The record included a passage reading, “At that fateful moment at 13:00 precisely [. . .] what did I see but the soldiers all arrayed in front of the fountain, returning fire in the same kneeling ranks seen in old battlefields, as though attacking an enemy? [. . .] The idea of trying to stop the indiscriminate fire against the retreated crowd rushed through my head like a thunderbolt.”

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