The Kwangju Incident of May 1980, although one of the crucial events in the post-Korean War history of South Korea, remains a subject of great controversy and confusion. A variety of contradictory accounts and analyses of the incident have appeared, but a day-by-day recounting of the uprising, drawn from previously unpublished eyewitness accounts, contradicts both the official government report and many of the contemporary press accounts. The experiences of eyewitnesses, including Peace Corps volunteers and resident missionaries, suggest that the events in Kwangju represented an indigenous, immediate response to military and police violence, rather than a planned provocation manipulated by outside political forces. The incompatibility of these eyewitness accounts with the Korean government report, as well as the reluctance of the government to respond at all, reflects a lack of clarity surrounding the Kwangju incident which will ensure its continuing impact on the contemporary political scene in Korea, and establishes the need for an even-handed report and analysis of the incident incorporating all available information and accounts.


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pp. 33-57
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