US Presbyterian Church pledges to help get US government to offer apology for Nogun-ri killings

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 6, 2017 - 15:13
  • Updated : Nov 6, 2017 - 15:13

A US Presbyterian Church delegation pledged Monday to help with efforts to get the US government to acknowledge its responsibility and offer an official apology and compensation for a 1950 civilian massacre by American troops during the Korean War.

The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, who is stated clerk of the denomination's General Assembly and leader of the 16-member delegation, made the remark during a news conference in Seoul, saying that as a US citizen, he apologizes for the mass killings.

The US Presbyterian Church has been a vocal supporter of the victims of the massacre at the village of Nogun-ri in central South Korea. In September, the denomination sent letters to US President Donald Trump and the Congress, calling for an acknowledgment of responsibility and an offer of compensation to victims.

The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, leader of the US Presbyterian Church delegation, speaks during a news conference in Seoul on Nov. 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

The Nogun-ri killings became widely known after a Pulitzer Prize-winning report from the Associated Press in 1999 that quoted US veterans as saying that commanders ordered them to shoot refugees seeking shelter under a railroad bridge.

The official death toll was 150, though some say the number of deaths could have been as many as 300. Then-US President Bill Clinton expressed regret, but stopped short of offering an official apology. US officials claimed that an investigation has found that no official order was given to fire on the civilians.

Last week, the Presbyterian Church delegation paid a visit to the Nogun-ri site and met with victims.

The delegation has been on a trip aimed at promoting peace on the Korean Peninsula and the eventual reunification of the two Koreas. The trip also included a visit to the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas last week.

The delegation also includes the Rev. Jose Luis Casal, director of Presbyterian World Mission; the Rev. Robina Winbush, assistant stated clerk and director of the Office of the General Assembly's ecumenical relations; and the Rev. Mienda Uriarte, coordinator of World Mission's Asia-Pacific office.

On Tuesday, the delegation plans to visit the National Assembly for a meeting with Speaker Chung Se-kyun. (Yonhap)