President Moon Jae-in expressed his deepest regret and sincerest apology to the people of Gwangju for the violence and massacre it was subjected to by the state 39 years ago.
Attending an event to commemorate the anniversary of the May 18th Democratization Movement, the president was visibly emotional as he addressed the citizens of Gwangju, saying the date marks the start of true democracy in Korea.
"I feel very sorry for Gwangju citizens and am genuinely ashamed and wanted to make an appeal to all Koreans."
( , .)
Saying the Korean people are indebted to Gwangju's citizens, the president also added that the pain they suffered and their aspirations for democracy are shared by their brethren nationwide, and that its legacy cannot be subject to political differences.
"The truth about May 18 cannot differ between conservatives and liberals. That's because the values that Gwangju struggled to protect were none other than "freedom" and "democracy." The only ones who could view May 18 in a different light are the would-be heirs of dictatorship."
(5.18 · . ' ' ' ' . 5.18 .)
The president stressed the importance in uncovering the truth of what exactly transpired in 1980 in Gwangju.
"Our task now is to uncover the truth that has yet to be clarified. This will allow us to put down the heavy historical burden that Gwangju has so far shouldered and turn the May of tragedy into the May of hope."
( . , .)
Those tasks, referring to the identification of those responsible for the massacre and secret burials of victims.
And the person at the center of it all, former President Chun Doo-hwan, currently facing libel charges for defaming a late activist priest, though not facing more serious charges related to the brutal crackdown he ordered on Gwangju.
The president also highlighted the introduction of a special legislation in March last year that revolves around the creation of a fact-finding committee -- though it has yet to be officially launched over political controversy over the details.
President Moon, called on parliament to show bipartisan support and a greater sense of responsibility in rectifing past mistakes.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.