Remains of 40 people discovered at former prison site in South Korea’s Gwangju

This photo, taken Dec. 20, 2019, shows the site of a former prison in the southwestern city of Gwangju where the remains of about 40 people have been discovered. (Yonhap)

This photo, taken Dec. 20, 2019, shows the site of a former prison in the southwestern city of Gwangju where the remains of about 40 people have been discovered. (Yonhap)

Gwangju: The remains of about 40 people have been discovered at the site of a former prison in the southwestern city of Gwangju, the government said Friday, with some claiming that they may belong to victims of crackdowns during the pro-democracy movement in the 1980s.

The remains were uncovered Thursday when the government undertook work to move a graveyard where deceased prisoners with no family ties were buried, according to the Ministry of Justice. Their identities are not known.

“We will cooperate with the relevant organizations to verify the identification of the remains through DNA tests,” the ministry said.

Civil activists said that some of the remains may belong to people who went missing during brutal crackdowns on civilians during the pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju in May 1980.

On May 18, 1980, the military cracked down on demonstrators, including students, protesting against then President Chun Doo-hwan, who had taken power in a military coup a year earlier.

The tank-led quelling of the uprising left hundreds of people dead and thousands wounded.

Now designated a historic site, the compound of the Gwangju prison saw troops operating under martial law firing shots at civilians.

The government plans to establish a “law park” at the site that will function as a law-related educational facility.

YONHAP

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