S-Space College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원) The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) 법학 법학 Volume 43, Number 1/4 (2002)
국가폭력에 대한 법적 책임 및 피해회복 -5.18 민주화운동의 법적 해결을 중심으로-
Overcoming the Past State Atrocities in South Korea
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 법학연구소
- 법학, Vol.43 No.2, pp. 187-237
- “May 18th” is a symbolic word for the struggle between military
dictatorship and civilian protest in Korea. In 1980 the military committed a
coup to come into power, suppressed the citizen's uprising, and led to bloody
massacre. Seventeen-years' struggles have been made to find the truth of the
incident and to punish the military ringleaders. It was at “May 18th Trials” in
1996 where the military leaders, including two former presidents, were found
guilty of treason and massacre.
Serious legal issues were under hot controversy at the stage of May 18th
Trials: If a Coup d'etat were victorious, how can it be prosecuted? Did the
Kwangju Trial violate the constitutional prohibition against retroactive
punishment? Who is accountable for the massacre in Kwangju?
The transition to democracy required an open enquiry of past human rights
abuses. The urgent question was raised: how to deal with civilian massacre in
Kwangju. At least five guiding principles for the resolution of Kwangju
massacre were declared and carried out: truth, justice, compensation,
honor-restoration, and commemoration. Without the Kwangju solution, without
any advance in dealing with the past abuses of older times. Now, Kwangju
serves as a guide to what and how other cases wish to follow.