Bodo League massacre
|Bodo League massacre|
Summary execution of South Korean political prisoners by the South Korean military and police at Daejeon, South Korea
|Date||summer of 1950|
|Deaths||At least 100,000|
|Perpetrators||Syngman Rhee anticommunist forces|
|Motive||Fear of a North Korean Fifth column|
The Bodo League massacre (Hangul: 보도연맹 사건; hanja: 保導聯盟事件) was a massacre and war crime against communists and suspected sympathizers (many of them were civilians who had no connection with communism or communists) that occurred in the summer of 1950 during the Korean War. Estimates of the death toll vary. According to Prof. Kim Dong-Choon, Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at least 100,000 people were executed on suspicion of supporting communism; others estimate 200,000 deaths.[not in citation given] The massacre was wrongly blamed on the communists. For four decades the South Korean government concealed this massacre. Survivors of this massacre were forbidden by the government from revealing it, under suspicion of being communist sympathizers. Public revelation carried with it the threat of torture and death. During the 1990s, several corpses were excavated from mass graves, resulting in public awareness of the massacre.
In 1950, just before the outbreak of the Korean War, the first president of South Korea, Syngman Rhee, had about 30,000 alleged communists imprisoned; he also had about 300,000 suspected sympathizers or his political opponents enrolled in an official "re-education" movement known as the Bodo League (or National Rehabilitation and Guidance League, National Guard Alliance, National Guidance Alliance National Bodo League, Bodo Yeonmaeng, Gukmin Bodo Ryeonmaeng, 국민보도연맹, 國民保導聯盟) on the pretext of protecting them from execution. Many Bodo League members were civilians who had no connection with communism or communists. Many of them were forced to be listed as part of the Bodo League because the government officials were pressed by their superiors to make the number larger. Non-communist sympathizers or political opponents of Rhee were also forced into the Bodo League to fill enlistment quotas.
In June 1949, the South Korean government accused independence activists of being members of the Bodo League, and subsequently arrested them.
Under the leadership of Kim Il-sung, the Korean People's Army attacked from the North on 25 June 1950, starting the Korean War. According to Kim Mansik, who was a military police superior officer, President Syngman Rhee ordered the execution of people related to either the Bodo League or the South Korean Workers Party on 27 June 1950. The first massacre was started one day later in Hoengseong, Gangwon-do on 28 June. Retreating South Korean forces and anti-communist groups executed the alleged communist prisoners, along with many of the Bodo League members. The executions were performed without any trials or sentencing.
United States official documents show American officers witnessed and photographed the massacre. In one case a US officer is known to have sanctioned the killing of political prisoners so that they would not fall into enemy hands. On the other hand, United States official documents show that John J. Muccio, then United States Ambassador to South Korea, made recommendations to South Korean President Rhee Syngman and Defense Minister Shin Sung-mo that the executions be stopped. American witnesses also reported the scene of the execution of a girl who appeared to be 12 or 13 years old. The massacre was also reported to both Washington and General Douglas MacArthur.
There were also British and Australian witnesses. Great Britain raised this issue with the U.S. at a diplomatic level, causing Dean Rusk, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, to inform the British that U.S. commanders were doing "everything they can to curb such atrocities". During the massacre, the British protected their allies and saved some citizens.
After the UN offensive in which South Korea recovered its occupied territories, the police and militia groups executed people who were suspected as North Korean sympathizers. In October 1950, the Goyang Geumjeong Cave Massacre occurred. In December British troops saved civilians lined up to be shot by South Korean officers and seized one execution site outside Seoul to prevent further massacres. In 1951 the Ganghwa massacre were conducted by South Korean police.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
In 2008, trenches containing the bodies of children were discovered in Daejeon, South Korea, and other sites.[not in citation given] South Korea's Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented testimonies of those still alive and who took part in the executions, including former Daejeon prison guard Lee Joon-young.
Besides photographs of the execution trench sites, the National Archives in Washington D.C. released declassified photographs of U.S. soldiers at execution sites including Daejeon, confirming American military knowledge.[not in citation given]
- Historical Dictionary of the Korean War, Paul M. Edwards, Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press, 2010, p. 32, entry "Bodo League Massacre"
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bodo League massacre.|
- Mass Killings in Korea — Commission Probes Hidden History of 1950, Associated Press (Video and Documents)
- Unearthing War’s Horrors Years Later in South Korea, New York Times, 3 December 2007.
- TRCK confirms hundreds of villagers were massacred during onset of Korean War The commission advises an official state apology and will continue investigations of the National Guard Alliance through the end of the year, Hankyoreh, 17 November 2009.
- Truth commission confirms Korean War killings by soldiers and police 3,400 civilians and inmates were shot dead or drowned out of concerns they might cooperate with the People’s Army, Hankyoreh, 3 March 2009.