The Korea Herald - Mar 2, 2009
A government commission confirmed yesterday that about 3,400 prisoners and civilians in Busan, Masan and Jinju were killed by South Korean soldiers and policemen shortly after the Korean War broke out.
At least 20,000 people jailed for taking part in the popular uprisings in Jeju, Yeosu and Suncheon, or accused of being communists, were massacred in some 20 prisons across the country.
It is the first time the government confirmed facts regarding the massacres 59 years ago, into which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission launched an inquiry in November 2006.
The commission plans to complete the investigation into another 675 reported cases and unveil the results by the end of this year.
The truth commission said that even though the country was at war, killing prisoners and civilians for fear they might join the North Korean army was a crime.
"It was simply inhumane beyond comparison that soldiers and police officers randomly executed thousands of prison inmates and civilians already under isolation in regions not occupied by the North Korean army," said Kim Dong-choon, a standing commissioner of the truth panel.
"(The commission) urged the government to apologize to the victims' families, support their memorial services and reflect the civilian sacrifices in official publications."
About 1,500 inmates at Busan prison were killed by law enforcement officers between July 26 and Sept. 25, 1950, and 148 of the victims have been identified.
They were mostly shot to death on hillsides, but some were drowned in the sea.
At least 717 people in Masan prison were shot dead or drowned around that time, 358 of who have been identified, the commission said.
In Jinju prison, at least 1,200 prisoners and civilians accused of being communists were killed and 70 of them have been identified.