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ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)
S/N Korean Humanities Vol.4 No.2 pp.39-65

The Jeju 4.3 Uprising and the United States: Remembering Responsibility for the Massacre

Jeong-Sim Yang
Ewha Womans University


In conjunction with the seventieth anniversary of the Jeju 4.3 Uprising, more and more people have started to raise their voice calling for the United States to be also held accountable and for it to make an apology. People have started to critically view the American role in the Cold War, its policies regarding the Korean peninsula and its responsibilities related to the tragic massacre on Jeju Island. This essay seeks to go along side this movement by reviewing some historical facts. The U.S. Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK), in order to successfully hold the South-only election to advance US interests, sought to strongly clamp down on the Jeju 4.3 Uprising. However, it avoided becoming directly involved in the actual suppression. The USAMGIK, through various reports, intelligence sources or witness testimonies, knew that punitive forces composed of the police and the military were indiscriminately massacring civilians. The military advisors reported on the excessive brutality shown by the punitive forces but did not do anything to stop it even though they had enough authority to do so. On the surface, the United States called for American-style democracy and criticized the barbaric violence committed by Koreans. In reality, however, the United States abetted or even instigated the massacres in Jeju.