As a part of Memorial Committee for the 70th anniversary of the Jeju April 3rd Uprising and Massacre peace tour programme, Jeju Dark Tours conducted a peace tour for foreigners on 15-16 September 2018. This is the second tour for foreigners after the first one in May. Ms. Youjoung Kim, contributed a detailed review after the tour. Thanks :)
This year marks the 70th anniversary of Jeju 4.3. As a native Jeju resident whose ancestors went through the tragic past of the island, it denotes an unforgettable memory which my generation has to carry on while remembering our own grandparents’ history. Although I was born and raised here, I did not know much about the massacre and the uprising except my grandmother had to hide herself in an underground cave with my uncles during the time. It was a repetitive story that she shared when I was a little child. She did not go into many details however I begin to realise the horrific experience could not be erased from her remembrance even after decades. It was a story imbued in her body and mind, inseparable from who she was.
In mid-September, I got a chance to participate in the peace tour of the Jeju 4.3 targeted for non-Koreans as a guide. It was organised by the Jeju Dark Tour and run for one night and two days. Starting from the 4.3 Peace Park, the journey went on to Bukchon, a village in Hamdeok, followed by military caves at the Seo-Woo Hill, built during the Japanese colonisation, and a small fishery port. After listening to the detailed explanation about the background of the Jeju 4.3 at the memorial museum, the participants asked their questions on these sites such as ‘although there were a number of pro-Japanese Koreans at schools in Jeju, we were told there were many progressive teachers. Weren’t there any conflicts among them?’. It was a question that I had to think over for an answer. I was glad to see the partakers showed high concentration and passion in learning the history of Korea.
While walking in the village, we were fortunate to meet a local resident by chance who was on the way home from a workplace. He was generous enough to guide us to the every single corner of the community. Thanks to him, we could have an opportunity to walk along the shore from the Seo-Woo to the port. We were also lucky to listen to stories that only local villagers could share such as the background on the installation of a lighthouse and the 4.3 narratives of the community.
On the second day, the tour began from the Seodal Oreum, a place where those taken for the preventive detention were massacred. We looked around the site feeling the hearts of the family members who sought for the dead bodies with the pieces of the abandoned rubber shoes on the way. While it was such a beautiful day to walk on the path from the Seodal to Dong-Al Oreum, we could once again empathise with the pain of Jeju and its dark history.
In Donggwang, with Grandmother Choon-Ho Hong, we looked around Muduengyiwat, a lost village where she was born and grew up. She went through the Jeju 4.3 when she was eleven years old. The participants were about to tear out as they listened to the detailed testimony indicating the physical location of where the massacre sites were as well as the lands where her childhood memories were embraced. We all wished she would be able to deliver the story with many other visitors for a long time.
The last place we went to was the Late Jin A-Young’s House. Grandmother A-Young Jin, who now passed away, had to live without her chin for a lifetime as it was shot and injured during the Jeju 4.3. At her house, we watched a short video of her filmed when she was alive. Although it was a tight schedule to travel to all these sites within one night and two days, no one in the group left the trip or showed their tiresome.
I believe it is a rare opportunity for non-Koreans to learn about the Jeju 4.3 on a field trip. I was glad that after the tour the participants were happy to be given with such a chance as they wanted to know more about Jeju. It was a great time for me as well to learn from them with higher enthusiasm and interests in the history than some Koreans or local Jeju residents. I sincerely hope the trip would be a stepping stone to the internationalisation of Jeju 4.3 with the 70th commemorative anniversary this year.