Study |What we learned in the activity . - Atomic survivors in South Korea - Non-Profit Organization Touch In Peace

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Study - Atomic survivors in South Korea -


Korean atomic bomb victims & Hapcheon atomic bomb survivors welfare hall

The number civilian (non-military) victims during the 1945 atomic bombings of Japan is estimated to be 310,000~320,000 persons in the Hiroshima bombing on August 6th, and 270,000-280,000 persons in Nagasaki bombing on August 9th.

It is little known that there were more than 30 nationalities who suffered directly from these two atomic bombings. Besides Japanese nationals, Koreans were the second most affected nationality, with an estimated 70,000 Korean victims in Hiroshima, and 30,000 in Nagasaki. In total, one sixth of the atomic bombing victims (about 100,000 people) were of Korean nationality.

Of the Korean victims, over half passed away during or immediately following the atomic bombings, and around 30,000 returned home to Korea after release. Today there are 8,000 Korean bombing survivors who remain living in Japan and 20,000 survivors who live in South Korea, with a large concentration of them living in Hapcheon.

Hapcheon is known as the "Hiroshima of Korea" for although it was not itself bombed, a disproportionately large number of the victims of the bombings are originally from the Hapcheon region.

For those victims who returned to Korea after the war, the reality that was waiting for them was a cruel one. Not only was there little understanding or compensation provided to the returning atomic bomb survivors, but they came home to a vastly unwelcoming atmosphere. Even as they returned to their hometowns, few people wanted to see or be near them. Some survivors confessed that there was no choice but to hide their past from society, in order to avoid such discrimination.

It wasn't until 45 years after the end of the war, in 1990, that the Korean and Japanese governments finally agreed to support Korean atomic bomb survivors with a fund of 4 billion yen. With this fund the “Hapcheon Atomic Bomb Survivors Welfare Hall” was opened in 1996 for 1st generation Korean atomic bomb survivors who had been suffering from diseases or disorders caused by the atomic bomb.

The Welfare Hall aims to provide a peaceful life and good-health promoting treatment for the Korean atomic bomb survivors. It is run by Red Cross Korea, and currently about 100 residents.