S. KOREA WANTS JOINT INQUIRY
President Kim calls for probe into death reports
By Sang-hun Choe
Korea – South
Korea’s president on Saturday called for a
join US-South Korea
probe into allegations that American forces gunned down several hundred
refugees at the start of the Korean War.
"We must be
aggressive in unveiling the truth," President Kim Dae-jung was quoted as
telling a meeting of senior presidential aides.
"Investigating together with the United
States will be more efficient."
On Wednesday, The Associated Press reported accounts by American veterans
and South Korean villagers who said they saw U.S.
soldiers kill up to 400 civilians in Nogun-ri, South
Korea, in 1950 during the early days
of the Korean War.
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.
Korean news media carried the key points of the AP report on Saturday according
to the North’s official foreign news outlet, KCNA. KCNA offered no government comments, but
described Nogun-ri as a "massacre" and "genocide" by
imperialist aggression forces." North
Korea claims the 1950-53 Korean War was started by the United States—a claim
rejected by most historians.
Korea, Kim said his government will
give special priority to investigating the AP report, said his chief spokesman,
Park June-young. Kim also indicated that
the government will help compensate the victims. "The incident happened 50 years ago, but if
such innocent civilians were indeed killed, the truth must be known and the
souls of the dead and the bereaved families must be consoled," Kim said.
both the foreign and defense ministries said they began contacting U.S.
officials for possible cooperation in the investigation. Aging South Koreans who said they survived
the Nogun-ri killings issued a statement demanding
they be represented in any joint-investigation team organized by the two
They also said
they would not allow any anti-American elements in their campaign for the truth
behind Nogun-ri, because they recognize the friendly
relations between Washington
and Seoul and the
important security role the United States
plays in the divided Korean peninsula.