An official memorial service will be held at Seoul National Cemetery Wednesday morning to memorialize 17 Koreans killed, mostly senior government officials, in a bombing in Rangoon, Myanmar, 30 years ago.
About 40 high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are to attend the ceremony, organized by the ministry to mark the 30th anniversary of the tragic event.
Surviving family members are also expected at the event.
On Oct. 9, 1983, 17 Koreans lost their lives in the North Korean orchestrated blast at the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Rangoon, also known as Yangon.
|Kwon Chul-hyun, who heads a committee to build a monument at the site of the Oct. 9, 1983 bombing in Rangoon, makes a speech in a memorial service in honor of the blast victims in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Yonhap News)|
At the time, they were part of an entourage of President Chun Doo-hwan on his visit to Myanmar. When one of three bombs hidden in the roof exploded, they were assembling at the mausoleum, waiting for the president to arrive. Chun planned to lay a wreath at the cemetery to commemorate Aung San, who founded the independent Burma and was assassinated in 1947.
The bombing turned out to be a North Korean assassination attempt against Chun, who was saved because his car had been delayed in traffic and was only minutes from arriving at the cemetery.
All the victims were buried at Seoul National Cemetery on Oct. 13, 1983. They include Deputy Prime Minister Seo Seok-jun, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lee Beom-seok, Minister of Commerce and Industry Kim Dong-hwi, Minister of Power Resources Suh Sang-chul and Presidential Chief of Staff Ham Byeong-chun.
On Monday, members of a civilian and government joint committee seeking to build a monument honoring them at the site of the bombing, survivors and the surviving families gathered at a memorial tower in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, to remember the victims.
“There has been no monument at the site of the bombing for 30 years. Now, as the governments of South Korean and Myanmar have reached consensus, it has become possible to build one there,” said former Ambassador to Japan Kwon Chul-hyun, who heads the committee, in a speech at the memorial event.
“We should try to set up a monument as soon as possible and make it known to as many people as we can.”
The committee plans to dedicate a 1.5 meter high and 1 meter thick monument on a 260 square meter lot, provided by the Myanmar government, at the Martyrs’ Mausoleum around Dec. 20.
The names and titles of those killed and an epitaph will be inscribed on the monument in Korean.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org)