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South Korea: Admission Of Torture

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, This time the evidence was too overwhelming to ignore. The South Korean government has long denied it was treating political detainees brutally, but last week officials admitted to one serious case. They revealed that Park Jong Chul, 21, a Seoul National University student, had suffocated to death during water torture by police as they questioned him. The surprisingly candid disclosure followed well-publicized accusations by the doctor who had been called in to revive the youth and by Park’s relatives, who had seen wounds on the body.

Park’s reputed killers were arrested, and President Chun Doo Hwan dismissed the director general of the national police force and the Minister of Home Affairs. Nonetheless, university students protesting Park’s death held a memorial service and campus protest marches, and the opposition seized the new popular issue. Trying to burnish his country’s image before the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Chun called for the creation of an agency to prevent such “isolated” incidents in the future.

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