South Korean supplies evidence of 1980 military firing on civilians

Seoul's military may have used helicopter ammunition against civilians to suppress protests in 1980.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Feb. 16, 2017 at 2:01 PM
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Feb. 16 (UPI) -- A South Korean citizen provided evidence the country's military deployed helicopter machine guns to target at least one civilian building during the 1980 Gwangju Uprising, a pro-democracy movement violently suppressed by the military.

The South Korean national who requested anonymity has submitted as evidence empty cartridges from helicopter ammunition fired in Gwangju, Yonhap reported Thursday.

The cartridges came to light a month after Seoul's national forensic service found 150 bullet marks from a helicopter shooting.

The marks were found on the 10th floor of the Jeon-il Building in Gwangju.

The South Korean military took aim at a building occupied by civilians, but the military has not officially accepted responsibility for the attack, according to Yonhap.

The South Korean donor presented the May 18 Memorial Foundation, a local nonprofit, with three shell casings measuring about 4 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter.

The donor, a resident of Naju in South Jeolla Province, said he found the shells on a road between the city of Gwangju and the village of Nampyeong around May 24-25, 1980.

According to the citizen's testimony, the cartridges were found next to a Kia Brisa, a South Korean model of automobile no longer in production.

The car appeared to have been damaged by gunfire, the May 18 Memorial Foundation stated.

The foundation said it is likely the shells were fired from a military helicopter equipped with a Volcano mine dispensing system.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo has agreed to cooperate closely on investigations, but the military has yet to formally acknowledge the use of armed helicopters to fire at civilians.

The Jeon-il building was used as a base for citizen militia, according to South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.

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Topics: Han Min
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