By Uni Park
Collective amnesia. Collective trauma. On picturesque Jeju Island, its quite easy to forget that Jeju was one big mass grave. So many deaths and unknown remains. I imagine the numerous golf courses and sprawling hillside resorts built above the dead. Today, April 3rd, marks the 65th anniversary of the 1948 civilian uprising and massacre where it is estimated 1/5 [up to 80,000] of the population on Jeju Island were brutally killed for associating or participating in people’s committees or had refused to vote in a puppet election recognizing a divided Korea, all labeled communists. [These operations were directed by the US Army.]
These simple-minded farming, fishing communities wiped out. 230 villages disappeared, 40,000 homes destroyed or burned down. Someone once told me that there are very few old trees on Jeju because they were all burned down in search for those who tried to hide in the mountains.
Arthouse documentary film, ‘Jeju Prayer’ connects the governments bloody suppression of the 4.3 uprising and the Gangjeong village struggle against the naval base. A special pre-screening with the director and producer for Gangjeong villagers was held on Monday. Visually stunning, well edited, moving. Opening in theaters this week.
(See also Organizing Notes)