And now along with the Moon Jae-in administration's efforts to commemorate and discover the truth about the April Third Jeju Incident that began 70 years ago today, our Cha Sang-mi delves deeper into what triggered the incident and why it is not considered an official part of Korea's modern history.
Jeju Island is famous for its beauty and natural wonders, but its dark history is often overlooked.
In 1947, the shooting of civilians by police during the March 1st Movement celebration triggered a period of turmoil on Jeju island.
"A child at the march was ran over by the police. As the crowd grew louder around the policeman who claimed he didn't know there was a kid, other officers started firing their guns at innocent people, killing 6. If the government back then and the U.S. military government had apologized, this might not have become such a big incident."
“The April 3rd Jeju Incident is series of events that took place from 1947 to 1954, resulting in the highest number of casualties in modern Korean history, excluding the Korean War. Some twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand people were killed."
It was a horrific massacre.
But the truth behind the incident wasn't revealed until over half a century later.
"The then-government distorted the incident as a communist riot and banned the public from even discussing it. There was a time when authors would get arrested if they published novels or literary pieces featuring this theme."
Citizens' efforts to find the truth led to the Special Act on the restoration of honor of the victims in 2000.
"One of public-level efforts includes a petition to obtain an official apology for the incident from the United States. We can't just blame the then-U.S. government, but it is true they were behind the strategy and planning."
Reconciliation movements have also been seen on Jeju Island recently - the families of the deceased and the police association making reconciliatory statements and paying tribute together.
"The general Korean public lacked understanding of the Jeju Incident, often thinking it is just the history of Jeju. So the people of Jeju felt very isolated, but the incident is not just Jeju's history. It is our country's tragedy that we need to help heal and restore."
The head of the national museum says this is a horrendous event in Korean history, but many parts of the world nowadays are also experiencing similar tragedies, and that through understanding and empathizing with the pain of Jeju Incident people can strive together to try and prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Cha Sang-mi, Arirang News.