A former intelligence official of the U.S. military has come forward with a claim that former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan visited Gwangju right before a deadly crackdown on the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in the city and gave an order to fire at armed demonstrators.
The claim was raised by Kim Yong-jang, who introduced himself as a former intelligence agent working for a U.S. intelligence military unit in the southwestern city.
In a press conference Monday in Seoul, Kim said Chun held a meeting with senior military leaders, including Special Warfare Commander Chung Ho-yong, at Gwangju Airfield on May 21st, 1980.
Kim asserted the order to kill protesters must have been made in that meeting, calling it a reasonable presumption. He said the former president flew to Gwangju by helicopter from an airfield in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, and raised the possible existence of an official document proving Chun went to Gwangju on the day in question.
Kim also dismissed suspicions that North Korea masterminded the South Korean civilian protests, which the Chun junta used to justify its crackdowns, saying it would have been impossible for the North to stage such acts in the South without U.S. intelligence knowing. He said at the time, the United States was thoroughly surveying the Korean Peninsula using two satellites.