July 23 (UPI) -- South Korean officials may have requested the release of classified U.S. documents pertaining to the 1980 Gwangju Uprising, according to a local press report.
South Korean television network KBS reported Tuesday the request may have been made following President Donald Trump's visit to Seoul in June.
"There was a request from [civic] groups for the release of the documents ahead of the U.S.-South Korea summit in June," a South Korea presidential Blue House official said. "We used government channels to convey the message to the United States, and negotiations are in progress."
The Gwangju Uprising, also known as the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement, will mark its 40th anniversary in 2020.
South Korean civic groups that represent the victims of local military violence during the 1980 incident claim there are confidential U.S. documents that contain vital information regarding the authorities ultimately responsible for the massacre of hundreds of civilians.
The effort to secure the files is not new; South Korean activists have been requesting the documents since the '90s, but the administration of current President Moon Jae-in is the first to make a direct government-to-government request, according to KBS.
A Gwangju Uprising activist told KBS negotiations between Seoul and Washington are "in process."
The files could become fully declassified under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act because of the expiration of a 30-year deadline.
South Korean activists are seeking access to confidential correspondence that took place within the U.S. State Department pertaining to the situation in Gwangju at the time.
In May, on the 39th anniversary of the incident, President Moon Jae-in apologized to families of the victims.
"As a Korean, I feel tremendous shame when facing the reality of preposterous remarks denying and insulting the May 18 Democratization Movement still being uttered out loud without any hesitation," he had said, while calling for the truth to be revealed.
Some politicians in the South have claimed the incident included the participation of North Korean military personnel, and that pro-democracy protesters were rioters.
During the nine-day uprising, South Korea's military junta beat and sometimes killed citizens, murdering 200 people and wounding another 1,800, according to Yonhap.