South Korea: Gwangju Uprising May 18 Memorial Foundation Sued

The May 18 Memorial Foundation, which should be a symbol of peaceful democratic human rights, has now been formally accused of corrupt practices.


by Our Correspondent in Gwangju

( September 21, 2017, Gwangju, Sri Lanka Guardian) On September 4, a consortium of Gwangju civil activist groups sued the May 18 Memorial Foundation, specifically naming nine of its officers including Kim Yang-rae, standing director of the foundation. Along with their suit, the citizens’ groups call for the resignation of the chairman and the standing director.

The May 18 Foundation is a non-profit foundation established in 1994 for the purpose of developing the spirit of the May 18 Democracy Movement. The annual budget is over 3.5 million US dollars, and it employs 20 people.

The citizens’ groups who are suing include the Gwangju City Minjung Committee, Gwangju Progressives of Yonsei University, Gwangju Jeonnam Federation of Women’s Organizations, and Gwangju Folk Art Association. The groups brought to prosecutors a variety of charges ranging from violations of the Labor Standards Act, abuse of hirings in favor of personal friends of foundation staff, unpaid benefits, improper allocations of money, and failure to be responsive to years of requests for change. In July, the groups held a press conference calling for a positive response to their suggested changes, but the foundation rejected their criticisms.

Caption: Civil society groups held a press conference before filing a complaint with prosecutors.

On January 1, the City of Gwangju had already admonished foundation executives for more than a dozen violations of the city’s code of conduct. One of the findings was that 50 million won (about $45,000) was given in payments that did not go through the city planning committee as required.

In issuing their formal complaint, citizen groups stated that the “foundation’s board ignored the demands of citizens and the city without responding to the disciplinary demands of Gwangju city.” The groups believe that the foundation itself cannot be reformed.

The May 18 Memorial Foundation, which should be a symbol of peaceful democratic human rights, has now been formally accused of corrupt practices. Since the case is now in the hands of prosecutors, the foundation and related groups will face renewed scrutiny, this time by law enforcement officials.

Caption: Donald Gregg (seated) and Kim Yang-rae at the United Nations conference sponsored by the 5.18 Memorial Foundation

The leadership of Kim Yang-rae has also been criticized for his involvement with Donald Gregg, 31-year CIA man who was a supervisor in the murderous Phoenix Program in Vietnam and initiated illegal arms supplies to the Nicaraguan Contras. Although the FBI found Gregg lied to US Congress six times, Mr. Kim visited him in his home and invited him to a United Nations conference as a truthful witness.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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