Korean History: After Torture and Betrayal, Reconciliation

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Gaeyado today presents an idyllic scene.

But decades ago, the arrival of ferries was anticipated with dread. Often they brought the counterintelligence detectives, agents in successive South Korean military governments’ drives to root out Communists and their sympathizers.

The extent of the terror they spread in places like Gaeyado is only now coming to light with the revelations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This panel was set up in 2005 to investigate dark episodes in modern Korean history, including abuses the South Korean government perpetrated against fishermen, mostly from the 1960s to the 1980s, in the name of fighting the Communist threat from the North.

In the fearful atmosphere of that time, neighbors informed on each other. People were detained and tortured. Families broke apart, and onetime friends — like Park Chun-hwan, now 62, and Im Bong-taek, 61 — turned on each other.

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