TAIPEI – The family of a South Korean man will receive compensation for his murder by government troops in a 1947 military crackdown that resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians, the Memorial Foundation of 228 said Saturday.
Park Soon-chong will be the first Korean, and only the second foreigner, to receive compensation from the Taiwan government for what is now called the “228 Incident,” a brutal suppression of civilian resistance to Kuomintang (KMT) rule on Feb. 28, 1947, that marked the beginning of the White Terror period.
The Memorial Foundation of 228 announced on its website Saturday that it had completed the review process of the family’s application for compensation and agreed to pay them 6 million New Taiwan dollars (about $195,000).
The foundation was established in 1995 to handle compensation of victims’ families and educate the public about the 1947 massacre, among other things.
National 228 Memorial Museum Director Yang Chen-long said in a recent interview that they have two major projects planned for the next three years of President Tsai Ing-wen’s presidency.
The first is to finish an official report on the 228 Incident as Tsai has vowed to complete a report on transitional justice within three years.
Yang said the report will be based on another report the foundation published in 2006, which named KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek and the man Chiang picked to be the governor of Taiwan as well as other KMT bigwigs as the masterminds behind the military crackdown.
If the foundation’s theory in the 2006 book is incorporated into the national report on transitional justice, it will become an official document and influence the content of school textbooks, he said.
The goal is to “correct the wrongs” made in the past, he said. Among the wrongs Yang said need to be corrected is to change the name of National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and content of the exhibits there.
The foundation’s second project is to restore the museum’s functions, which Yang said significantly diminished when Ma Ying-jeou was president. The functions are to educate the public about the massacre, uncover truth of the incident and compensate victims and their families. With all of its functions fulfilled, Yang hopes that the foundation can help bring justice, peace and harmony to the island.
Yang himself comes from a family scarred by the incident. However, his father did not tell him about it until many years after the fact.
Yang’s grandfather, who served on a government committee investigating the initial military crackdown, was wanted by authorities for what they called improper dealings.
Yang’s grandfather managed to escape, so authorities arrested his father and uncle instead. While Yang’s father managed to survive, his uncle did not.
His uncle’s body was discovered days after the arrest, bound with others with iron wire and flagstone and thrown to the sea. Afraid of further persecution, his family buried his body hastily and did not officially register his death until 16 years later.
Many victims’ families have urged the government to uncover the truth of the massacre and restore the reputation of their loved ones.
Foundation Chairman Hsueh Hua-yuan said that in order to uncover the truth of the matter, the government must declassify as many official documents related to the tragedy as possible and prevent them from being destroyed.
What is equally important is to learn a lesson from it and prevent a similar tragedy from happening again in the future, he said.
To that end, Hsueh said the foundation will team up with the National 228 Memorial Museum and related agencies to complete the report on the 228 Incident.
The events organized to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre this year are not meant to evoke sad memories, he said, but to transform sadness into positive energy.
The massacre was caused by a government that did not believe in freedom, democracy and human rights, he said, and Taiwan must learn a lesson from history and never allow any government that does not believe in such values rule Taiwan again.