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Rhee’s son to apologize to April 19 victims

The family members of the deceased former President Syngman Rhee are to make their first official apology to students killed in the April 19 revolution in 1960.

Rhee In-soo, the foster son of the late president, will visit the graves Tuesday morning, the 51st anniversary of the revolution, and pay respect to the victims who died under police fire, according to the Syngman Rhee Committee on Sunday.

The April 19 revolution, one of the epochal democracy movements in modern Korean history, was a student-led rebellion which ousted Rhee, who had held the presidential seat for almost 12 years.

While calling for Rhee’s resignation and democracy, 183 people were killed, a majority of them university students.

The junior Rhee, during his visit to the graveyard, will also read aloud a statement, expressing his condolences and apology to the then-student victims and their families, officials said.

This will be the first explicit apology made by the descendents of Rhee, who have so far been in discord as how to respond to the bereaved families’ claims.

It was, nevertheless, the junior Rhee and Lee Ki-su, former president of Korea University and present chairman of the Rhee Committee, who pushed on with the unprecedented move of reconciliation, officials said.

“We offer our condolence to those who were sacrificed by the government’s misjudgments,” the committee said through its pre-released statement.

“We also promise to learn from the past mistakes and to contribute to achieving the nation’s prosperity.”

The committee also added in defense of the former president that Korea’s present successes were partly due to the political ideology of the former president, together with the sincere passion of the young students.

The victims’ families have so far refrained from issuing an official stance in response.

By Bae Hyun-jung