20-year-old dream comes to fruition: Revised Jeju 4∙3 Special Act finally passed
The bill on the revision of the Jeju 4∙3 Special Act for the resolution of Jeju 4∙3 and the restoration of honor to the victims was finally passed at the National Assembly’s plenary session, bring to fruition 20-year-old demands to resolve issues of compensation and indemnification for victims not included in the original act when it was legislated in 1993.
On Feb. 26 at 2 p.m., the National Assembly held a plenary meeting, where lawmakers passed the proposal on the general revision of the Jeju 4∙3 Special Act. The proposal had been transferred to the assembly after deliberation by the Public Administration and Security Committee and the Legislation and Judiciary Committee.
Before putting the agenda to a vote, the plenary integrated similar proposals by Rep. Oh Young-hun (Democratic Party of Korea, Jeju-si B Constituency) and Rep. Lee Myung-soo (People Power Party, Chungnam Asan-si A Constituency). The alternative to the agenda finally passed the plenary session in a 199 to 5, with 25 lawmakers abstaining.
According to the bill, the act will now be supplemented with clauses concerning additional investigations on Jeju 4∙3, ex officio retrials for the collective cases of those wrongfully convicted during the courts-martial, and the clearing of false of those wrongfully convicted during general trials. The bill especially details the state’s responsibility to devise compensation schemes and other support measures for those who have been identified as 4∙3 victims. To this end, the national government must develop the necessary criteria and prepare support measures in the earliest possible manner by commissioning external agencies to conduct research on financial support measures. Special case clauses will also be added to the existing statutes concerning the claims for the adjudication of disappearance and the claims to correct the inaccurate Family Relation Registers of some victims by demanding affiliation.
Under the revised law, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security has commissioned an external research project to develop the procedures of indemnity and compensation for the 14,533 people who have been designated as Jeju 4∙3 victims. The ministry will statutorily supplement the revised act by detailing the payment criteria and methods after the six-month research endeavor has been completed.
Rep. Oh Young-hun stated, “I will work with other lawmakers to include the amounts of indemnity in the budget bill for the 2022 fiscal year,” while expressing gratitude to the many helping hands that helped with the bill, particularly the victims’ families and local community members.
Referring to the passing of the bill as a new beginning, Rep. Oh stressed that the victims’ families will be granted compensation in the form of indemnity. “The revised bill marks a significant milestone for addressing the unresolved past issues in Korean history,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Jeju 4∙3 Peace Foundation issued an official comment to welcome the latest passing of the revised Jeju 4∙3 Special Act as follows:
We achieved a great triumph once again.
The bill on the revision of the Jeju 4∙3 Special Act passed the National Assembly’s plenary session today (Feb. 26). We sincerely appreciate and gladly welcome this monumental event in resolving Jeju 4∙3 issues.
It is deemed even more valuable that the plenary decision was bipartisan, just as had been the original act legislated on Dec. 16, 1999.
Significantly, the revised act will now allow for the seamless resolution of issues concerning those wrongfully convicted, which had shackled the restoration of honor to the victims. The new clauses also created the legal grounds for compensation and indemnification for the victims and their families, which had previously been balked at by the nation’s budget authorities. Finally, the act will now enable the resumption of additional investigations at a government level, which represents a big step forward in clearing the names of the falsely accused victims and healing their wounds and scars.
To make this historical day possible, many people from inside and outside Jeju Island have made concerted efforts in unison. We particularly express our gratitude to: Song Seung-moon (former chairman), Oh Im-jong (current chairman), and all the other members of the Association of the Bereaved Families of the Jeju 4∙3 Victims; Jeju-based lawmakers Oh Young-hun, Wi Seong-gon, and Song Jae-ho; Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong; Jwa Nam-soo (chairman) and all the other members of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial Council; and Jeju 4∙3-related organizations and civic groups on Jeju Island and across the country.
We are also very grateful to the ruling and opposition party lawmakers, including but not limited to, Lee Nak-yeon (leader of the Democratic Party of Korea), Joo Ho-young (floor leader of the People Power Party), and Lee Myung-soo (one of the bill’s proposers and a member of the People Power Party). Their bipartisan proposal materialized the spirit of Jeju 4∙3, representing “reconciliation” and “mutual prosperity.” Last but not least, we extend our gratitude to President Moon Jae-in who several times pledged to revise the Jeju 4∙3 Special Act.
Now, Jeju 4∙3 has taken a new step toward resolving the wrongdoings committed by state power many decades ago. We will have to make strenuous efforts in our next journey to build an exemplary case of resolving the past issues in contemporary Korean history. Our efforts to reflect the wishes of Jeju residents in the six-month course of commissioned research have just begun, and hopefully, we will bring the project to a successful conclusion.
Feb. 26, 2021
Jeju 4∙3 Peace Foundation (President Yang Jo Hoon)