Rangoon - A Sombre Anniversary

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Rangoon - A Sombre Anniversary

Postby toucana on June 10th, 2018, 3:05 pm 

Rangoon 1983 - Moments before the bomb

As president Trump flies in to Singapore to attend an unprecedented summit meeting with Kim Jong-un the political leader of North Korea, a sombre anniversary will go almost totally unnoticed and unremarked by the world’s press.

Thirty-five years ago on 9th October 1983, a large delegation of South Korean politicians led by prime minister Chun Doo-hwan were on a state visit to Rangoon, the capital of Burma. The visitors were attending a ceremony to lay a wreath at the Martyr’s Mausoleum to commemorate Aung San, one of the founding political leaders of Burma who was assassinated in 1947.

As the party waited for the ceremony to begin, a massive bomb exploded in the roof of the building. 21 people were killed and another 46 were injured. Four senior members of the South Korean cabinet were killed including foreign minister Lee Beom-Suk and deputy prime minister Suh Suk Joon. 14 South Korean presidential advisers, journalists and security officals were killed; four Burmese nationals including three journalists were also among the dead. The Prime minister of South Korea Chun Doo-hwan who was the real target of the bomb only escaped because his car had been delayed by traffic and was still a minute away from arriving at the memorial.


Burmese security forces quickly traced three suspects. Two of the suspects tried to commit suicide by detonating a grenade, but survived and were arrested, while the third was hunted down by the Burmese army and shot dead in a gun-battle in which two Burmese soldiers were also killed. One of the surviving assassins Kang Min-chul chose to co-operate with his interrogators and confessed that he was a North Korean People’s Army major, and that his companions were both army captains.

The Burmese police investigation revealed that the trio had slipped off a ship docked in Rangoon port and had received explosives in a North Korean diplomatic mission. Kang Min-chul claimed they had been trained and sent by the North Korean leadership to assassinate the prime minister of South Korea. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and died in prison in 2008. His companion was hanged.
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