Memories of Massacres Were Long Suppressed Here. Tourists Now Retrace the Atrocities


After decades of a strictly enforced silence, Jeju, an island off the southern coast of South Korea where many historical atrocities took place, is now inviting visitors to learn first hand about one of the ugliest chapters in modern Korean history.

These so-called “dark tours” reflect a growing freedom under the government of President Moon Jae-in to revisit the abuses perpetrated when South Korea was governed under a dictatorship. But for a long time, no one could discuss what happened at Bukchon and elsewhere around Jeju between 1947 and 1954.

During those years, Jeju was a human slaughterhouse, with an estimated 30,000 people losing their lives, about one-tenth of the island’s population. A majority of them were killed by police, soldiers and anti-Communist vigilantes hunting for leftist insurgents and their relatives.

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New York Times