My Gwangju FOIA Documents Get a Home – In Gwangju

mayor yoonThis week I agreed to donate my entire collection of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on U.S. policy in South Korea from 1979 to 1980 to the city of Kwangju. Mayor Yoon and I worked out the agreement on May 18 after I held extensive discussions with his human rights staff. The process will take a while, but eventually the city’s archive – which just opened last year – will get all 4,000 pages of declassified documents from the State Department, the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council and the CIA. They will be open to researchers and eventually copied in PDF format so anyone can search them. I’m very proud that they will find a home in the great city of Kwangju, the scene of a massive uprising against military rule that lasted from May 18 to May 27, 1980. This was a great accomplishment for me, and I thank Mayor Yoon and his wonderful staff for their assistance. I was invited to Kwangju this week for the commemorations along with three reporters who were there at the time of the uprising: Norman Thorpe of the Asian Wall Street Journal, Bradley Martin of The Baltimore Sun, and Donald Kirk of the London Observer. To get a take on what they observed, read Martin’s extraordinary story about his last interview with Yoon Sang-won, the leader of the uprising who died on the night of May 27, 1980, when U.S.-sanctioned South Korean forces sent from the DMZ retook the city and ended the 10-day rebellion.

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