On Wed, 19 Apr 2000, Ulhas Joglekar wrote:
> Wednesday 19 April 2000
> S Korean veteran admits massacre of civilians during Vietnam War
> SEOUL: South Korean marines massacred dozens of unarmed villagers during the
> Vietnam War, a retired marine officer was quoted as saying in a magazine
> published on Tuesday.
> Several news reports have carried accounts of such killings. But until
> former marine Capt. Kim Ki-tae spoke out, all South Korean veterans
> interviewed spoke on condition of anonymity. "It was a wholesale slaughter,"
> Kim told the weekly Hankyoreh-21. "I was the executioner."
> On November 14, 1966, Kim said his company arrested 29 young unarmed
> Vietnamese men in a jungle in Quang Ngai, central Vietnam. Kim said he meant
> to hand them over to South Vietnamese authorities. But a radio call came
> from the battalion to hurry and move to support another unit ambushed by
> Viet Cong guerrillas. "We didn't know what to do with these Vietnamese. They
> were all trussed together with electrical wire. They were trembling with
> fear," said Kim, 65. "Finally I said, `Take them away!"' Soldiers pushed the
> Vietnamese into a bomb crater and threw grenades in.
> Kim said he shouted, "I want a thorough job!" With that, soldiers climbed
> down into the crater and checked each body, shooting anyone who was still
> breathing. Kim said he suspected that not all of those killed were Viet Cong
> guerrillas. "I told the truth as a way of repenting," Kim said in a
> telephone interview with The Associated Press.
> In his interview with the magazine, Kim gave gruesome details of South
> Korean atrocities during the war. Kim said South Korean soldiers went wild
> when they were ambushed.
> Four days before the 29 Vietnamese were killed, Kim said, his unit wiped out
> an entire village of 30 to 40 huts in Quang Ngai. "Two platoons of my
> company advanced in front of us. They shot at everything that moved. By the
> time I got there, the village was strewn with corpses - children, women and
> old men," Kim said. "I yelled on the raid to stop the killings."
> Kim's company continued moving on. On the afternoon of that day, the
> advancing platoons rounded up 40 to 50 people in another village and
> distributed candies and cigarettes. Kim saw the villagers and told the
> platoon picking up the rear to free the villagers.
> "But when I left the village, I heard shooting and grenade explosions
> behind. I asked what was going on. The answer came back saying nothing was
> happening," Kim said. "I just told them to do a thorough job if they started
> it." Kim said he wanted to make sure that no one would survive to testify.
> "It is just one man's confession, and right now it is impossible to verify
> the claim," Seoul's Defense Ministry said in a statement. It added it has no
> immediate plan to investigate.
> The Vietnam government says that it wants to leave the past behind and build
> friendly relations with all countries. South Korea is a major investor in
> South Korean veterans said ambushes were rampant during the war and it was
> often impossible for them to distinguish between guerrillas and innocent
> villagers. About 320,000 South Koreans fought in the Vietnam War between
> September 1964 and March 1973, alongside U.S. troops. They were the largest
> foreign contingent after Americans. Of them, 5,077 were killed and 10,962
> Accounts of South Korean atrocities have been current here for years. "One
> of my unit members kept a Viet Cong eyeball in alcohol. Another kept a
> string of dried ears. They said they wanted to take them home as souvenirs,"
> Kim said. (AP)
> For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service
> For comments and feedback send Email
> © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. 2000.