One of the most horrible events of the Korean War, sometimes referred to as a "forgotten war" for good reason, is coming to light.
With U.S. military officers sometimes present, and as North Korean invaders pushed down the peninsula, the southern army and police emptied South Korean prisons, lined up detainees and shot them in the head, dumping the bodies into hastily dug trenches. Others were thrown into abandoned mines or into the sea. Women and children were among those killed. Many victims never faced charges or trial.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, etc etc. But if this report is accurate, by conservative estimate the South Korean government killed one in two hundred of its own people.
Hundreds of sets of remains have been uncovered so far, but researchers say they are only a tiny fraction of the deaths. The commission estimates at least 100,000 people were executed, in a South Korean population of 20 million.
That estimate is based on projections from local surveys and is "very conservative," said Kim. The true toll may be twice that or more, he told The Associated Press.
In addition, thousands of South Koreans who allegedly collaborated with the communist occupation were slain by southern forces later in 1950, and the invaders staged their own executions of rightists.
Through the postwar decades of South Korean right-wing dictatorships, victims' fearful families kept silent about that blood-soaked summer. American military reports of the South Korean slaughter were stamped "secret" and filed away in Washington. Communist accounts were dismissed as lies.
Mass executions and atrocities like the Katyn Forest and the Cambodian genocide are often used by the sort of people who trivialize simple political disagreement as "liberal fascism" to justify excesses in the cold war and a lot that's happened since.
Yet I doubt that we'll hear much from the liberal fascism crowd regarding this newly discovered example of actual fascism at work.