“The Jeju April 3rd Massacre” is a tragic incident that occurred in Jeju Island, South Korea between 1947 and 1954. This was a period when Korea was ruled by the US military government(United States Army Military Government in Korea, USAMGIK), and the US Military Advisory Group to Korea was exercising the operational control over the Korean army. Even though around 30,000 Jeju civilians lost their lives during this period, the US government have made no comments on this tragic incident for the last 70 years.
It was a chaotic period right after the independence from Japan, and the Korean peninsula was affected directly by the rising tension of the Cold War. On 1 March 1947, during the commemoration ceremony of the March 1st Declaration for Independence, the police fired shots and 6 people died and 8 were wounded. As a result of this incident, everyone on Jeju Island went on a general strike on 10 March, calling for an end to impunity and asking for a thorough investigation into the incident. However, instead of presenting an official apology, the Government began severely cracking down on Jeju islanders .
The authorities and the US military government’s crackdown on the 1st of March 1947 resulted in Jeju islanders’ holding a deep distrust of the Government. During this turbulent environment, part of the population, along with the first President of South Korea and the US government, wanted to establish a separate government in South Korea while others wanted to establish a unified country with the North. Jeju islanders stood up against the division of the Korean peninsula and protested against the first election that happened only in South Korea in May 10th, 1948. On April 3rd, 1948, Jeju islanders rose against the suppression of people and the South Korean election leading to the division of Korea. In response, military and police officers severely cracked down on Jeju islanders and around 30,000 people (10% of Jeju's total population) lost their lives during this period.
The US military government was a de facto government in South Korea, after Korea’s independence from Japan. Right after the April 3rd uprising in 1948, the US military government deployed Colonel Brown as the commander in charge of Jeju for the US Army. Colonel Brown commanded and led all crackdowns in Jeju. ‘The Jeju 4.3 Incident Investigation Report’ which was published in 2003 by The National Committee for Investigation of the Truth about the Jeju April 3 Incident, clearly mentions the responsibility of the US military government and the US Military Advisory Group to Korea. The US government should not avoid its responsibility on the Jeju April 3rd Massacre. It is time to disclose the truth of the Jeju April 3rd Massacre and to end impunity. We call for:
- The US government to acknowledge its responsibility for this tragic past, apologize and take responsible actions accordingly.
- Both the South Korean and the US governments to open an official investigation on the role of both the US military government and the US Military Advisory Group to Korea during the Jeju April 3rd Massacre period(1947-1954).
- The United Nations to call on both the South Korean and the US governments to conduct a thorough investigation on the April 3rd Massacre and to end impunity.
Association for the Bereaved Families of the 4.3 Victims
Memorial Committee for the 70th anniversary of the Jeju April 3rd Massacre
Pan National Committee to commemorate the 70th anniversary
of the Jeju April 3rd Massacre