Documents from Tim
Courtesy of Tim Shorrock
Tim Shorrock is an American journalist that has been writing about the May 18 Movement since 1980. In 1996, Shorrock published an article in the United States’ daily newspaper The Journal of Commerce (February 27, 1996), which first revealed the secret background role that United States’ President Jimmy Carter and his administration had played in Korean military’s violent suppression of the May 18 Movement. Public knowledge of this information, which also appeared in an article in the Seoul Weekly Sisa Journal (now Sisa-in), sparked student demonstrations in front of the United States Embassy in Seoul. The collection of documents presented here includes a selection from his 4,000 declassified documents—spanning letters to the president of the United States, Central Intelligence Agency assessments, and other government files—that Shorrock obtained through the Freedom of Information Act during the 1990s and early 2000s. Copies of Shorrock’s declassified documents are held in the May 18 Democratic Archive.
In addition, the tablet in which the materials are presented to the public in the exhibition includes other documents, such as: the copy of a detailed pamphlet about the May 18 uprising published by the Japanese Catholic Council for Peace in August 1980—which Shorrock helped distribute in his youth; Dong-A Ilbo’s missing and censored dispatch, published instead in the Japanese magazine AMPO (May 19–20, 1980)—which informed Shorrock and other Americans about the details of the uprising; and a series of photographs that the journalist took on his first trip to Gwangju in February 1981.
Tim Shorrock (b. 1951, United States) is a Washington-based journalist. He grew up in Japan and South Korea, where his parents worked as missionaries and relief workers. He is well-known in South Korea for revealing, in 1996, the secret background role played by the Carter administration in the Korean military’s violent suppression of the Gwangju uprising in 1980. For the past twenty years he has been a correspondent for The Nation on national security and East Asia and since 2017 has been closely covering the Korea peace process involving the United States and the two Koreas. In Korea, he has written extensively for The Korea Center for Investigative Journalism/Newstapa. Over the years, his work has been featured in The New York Times, Salon, The Progressive, The Washington Post, and Inter Press Service. In 2015, he was named honorary citizen of the city of Gwangju.