October 2, 1999



SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korean demonstrators held a two-hour rally Friday and welcomed a U.S. promise to investigate allegations American forces killed several hundred refugees with machine-gun fire at the start of the Korean War. 

    "We throw up both of our hands to welcome the U.S. decision," said Chung Eun-yong, spokesman for a group of aging South Koreans who say they survived the alleged killings at Nogun-ri in July 1950. 

    During a peaceful two-hour rally in front of the U.S. 8th Army headquarters in Seoul, dozens of activists praised Washington’s decision to formally review the Nogun-ri case.  But they also demanded punishment for those responsible and compensation for the victims’ relatives.  "All the South Korean people are angry.  America apologize!" they chanted, waving signs that read, "The truth will overcome" and "Punish those responsible for the Nogun-ri massacre."

    The survivors’ claims had been dismissed by both the U.S. and South Korean governments as groundless until The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that they were corroborated by interviews with a dozen ex-GIs who said they witnessed or participated in the alleged killings.  The U.S. and South Korean governments responded by promising thorough investigations of the incident. 

    According to the survivors, 300 people were killed in the mass shooting at a railroad bridge after 100 died in an air attack during the early weeks of the Korean War.  Ex-GIs spoke of anywhere from 100 to "hundreds" dead.  The AP also found once-classified documents showing that U.S. commanders ordered their troops to shoot civilians as a defense against disguised enemy soldiers. 

    The report has drawn widespread media and public attention in South Korea, including editorials criticizing the U.S. government for failing to investigate earlier claims from Nogun-ri survivors.  But Friday’s was the first anti-U.S. protest related to the AP report.