Defense chief apologizes to Gwangju uprising victims, vows to probe sexual assault allegations

By Yeo Jun-suk
  • Published : May 14, 2018 - 19:08
  • Updated : May 14, 2018 - 19:08

 Defense Minister Song Young-moo on Monday pledged to resolve questions surrounding the military’s helicopter shootings and sexual assault allegations against civilians during the pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju in 1980.

During a meeting with the survivors of pro-democracy movement in Gwangju, Song said that the military would address its every wrongdoing during the former President Chun Doo-hwan‘s crackdown of the pro-democracy movement.   

Song’s remark came after the allegation that the military had committed sexual assault against civilians and conducted helicopter shootings against the protestors at Chun‘s order.

“I’m here to tell each and every one of you that the defense ministry is doing its utmost to get to the bottom of the truth,” Song said. “Including the sexual assault cases, I will make sure there is no mystery left behind.”

Defense Minister Song Young-moo. Yonhap

Regarding the sexual assault cases, Song said he would work closely with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family to investigate the allegations. All of the panels will consist of female investigators, Song added.

According to some lawmakers and media outlets, soldiers dispatched to Gwangju sexually assaulted young students, who joined the Gwangju uprising, while under interrogation by the military.

Song is the first defense minister to deliver an apology to the surviving families of the Gwangju uprising. The minister was supposed to visit the memorial of the Gwangju uprising, but cancelled the plan and instead met with the victims’ families.

In February, a government committee concluded that fighter jets and Marines were also put on alert for dispatch to Gwangju, but failed to find out whether former president Chun had ordered the military to scramble the aircrafts.