JEJU CITY, South Korea, April 3 (UPI) -- South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun Monday apologized for the massacre of 12,000 leftist activists by government troops in 1948 in the southern island of Jeju.
At a memorial service for victims of the April 3 uprising, Roh apologized for what he called the illegal exercise of state power against citizens of Jeju during the suppression of an armed uprising, the Korea Herald reported.
The incident was part of a policy intended to suppress communist and leftist insurgent groups in South Korea following the country's separation from the North, where a communist government was installed. The policy began under the U.S. military and continued under the nationalist government elected in 1948.
Roh offered a formal apology to the people of Jeju Island, located at the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, in October 2003. Monday was the first time a president attended a memorial service for those killed.
The Roh administration has set up a committee to investigate the Jeju incident and has held activities to restore honor to its victims.
The opposition Grand National Party has denounced Roh's actions as political maneuvering aimed at discrediting the party and its leader, Park Geun-hye, who is the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee.