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Once on Death Row under the Yushin Constitution, Yoo In-tae's Surging Tears
By Jang Eun-gyo
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A general meeting of Democratic United Party lawmakers was held at 8am on September 11 in room 246 at the National Assembly. Tension filled the air as the lawmakers prepared to discuss reforms in the party.

Just when they were about to close the doors on the meeting, lawmaker Yoo In-tae stepped onto the podium asking to make an unscheduled personal statement.

Yoo began bashfully, "I apologize for throwing cold water on this meeting just when it (discussions on reforms) was getting heated." He continued, "I would like to say a few words as a person directly related to the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP) incident."

"When I was wanted for the Democratic Youth and Students' Association incident, I stayed at Yeo Jeong-nam's boarding house near Gyeongbuk University. Those, who had a career, gave the students some hundreds of thousands of won in today's standards for transportation fees and such, and that's all there was to the PRP incident. At the time of the emergency court martial, we received a fixed sentence. The people standing in the first row received the death penalty, the second row received a life sentence, and the third row twenty years in prison."

At a general meeting at the National Assembly on September 11, lawmaker Yoo In-tae of the Democratic United Party is holding back tears as he criticizes Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the Saenuri Party, for her statements on the People's Revolutionary Party the day before. Seo Seong-il

Yoo's calm voice started trembling as he recalled the day he was sentenced to death.

He continued, "On the morning of April 8, 1975, Kim, who was a physics teacher at Kyunggi Girls' High School said, ‘I think they're going to kill us.' Usually, for those on death row, they put handcuffs, which you can easily unlock even with a chopstick, but that morning they changed the handcuffs to tight ones made in the U.S. The Supreme Court ruling was scheduled for 2pm that afternoon, but they had already decided to kill them. They didn't have a clue as to why they were being taken, and not once did they let them see their family before their execution."

Lawmaker Yoo confessed, "When I look at what Park Geun-hye (presidential candidate of the Saenuri Party) is doing, I think she is worse than the Japanese who argue to cancel the statement by their former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, claiming that there is no evidence that the comfort women were mobilized by force."

He questioned Park Geun-hye, "And you say you want to meet the family of the deceased members involved in the People's Revolutionary Party incident? You want to meet the family, while you go and kill the victims twice? And you dare say…" Yoo could not continue for some time.

Yoo, whose eyes were red, breathed deeply as if trying to keep from shedding tears and continued his statement, "You say you are sorry for the people who suffered while your father was president? Park is saying she is sorry while she is digging up the dead and killing them once again. We cannot overlook this kind of statement from Park Geun-hye."

When lawmaker Yoo barely finished his statement, the solemn meeting room burst into applause.

Yoo was sentenced to death for his involvement in the Democratic Youth and Students' Association incident in 1974; the Park Chung-hee government labeled the organization as an anti-government organization. He was acquitted after 38 years at a retrial in February.

Yeo Jeong-nam was one of eight people, who were executed for their involvement in the People's Revolutionary Party incident. In a retrial in 2007, the court acquitted all eight members.

▲What is the People's Revolutionary Party incident?

Invention of a Spy Ring: Eight Executed in 18 Hours since the Ruling
In 1974, 23 people including Do Ye-jong were arrested and charged with violating the National Security Law by the Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), and in April the following year, the Supreme Court announced the death sentence for 8 members.

These eight were executed within 18 hours of their ruling. This incident is recognized as a typical case of judicial murder in the history of the constitutional government, along with the case of Cho Bong-am, who was executed on charges of espionage.

The Central Intelligence Agency argued that these members were trying to reestablish the People's Revolutionary Party, which was dismantled in the first incident in 1964, thus this incident is also called the People's Revolutionary Party Reestablishment Committee Incident.

At the time the KCIA was investigating the Democratic Youth and Students' Association, which fought against the Yushin Constitution in 1974. In the course of their investigation, the KCIA identified the PRP Reestablishment Committee as the mastermind behind the association and labeled it an underground organization, which received orders from North Korea.

Members related to the People's Revolutionary Party incident on trial under the Yushin Constitution. The Kyunghyang Shinmun file photo

In September 2002, the Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths claimed that the KCIA investigations were fabricated and acknowledged the activities of the victims as a pro-democracy movement. Based on these findings, the family of the deceased requested a retrial that year in December.

The National Intelligence Service Development Committee for Clarifying the Past also announced in December 2005 that the direction of the investigation was predetermined upon a request from the former President Park Chung-hee.

In January 2007, the Seoul Central District Court acquitted the eight, who were executed, and that year in August, the Seoul District Court acknowledged the illegal actions of the government and ruled for compensations to the family. In January 2011, the Supreme Court made a final decision on the amount of compensation, which was to be 24.7 billion won.

Copyright The Kyunghyang Shinmun. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution without permission absolutely prohibited.

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