Two Vietnamese women on Monday received a peace award in South Korea for their efforts in bringing transparency to historical truths about the massacres of Vietnamese people perpetrated by South Korean troops during the American War in Vietnam.
The unrelated women, who share the same full name, Nguyen Thi Thanh, were recipients of the 2019 Peace Award presented by Jeju April 3rd, a South Korean non-governmental organization.
Jeju April 3rd works to promote reconciliation between both sides of a historic massacre that saw almost the entire population of the country’s Jeju Island killed on April 3, 1948.
The organization picked two Vietnamese women as recipient of this year’s award because they are survivors of similar massacres, conducted by South Korean troops, that took place in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Nam.
Their stories bear resemblance to the stories of Jeju massacre survivors and represent a wish for everlasting peace and co-existence between peoples, according to the organizer.
Both Thanh’s saw their family members killed by South Korean soldiers during separate massacres in Quang Nam in January 1968 at the height of the American War in Vietnam.
As many as 1,361 Vietnamese civilians were killed in massacres carried out by the Korean Tiger and Blue Dragon divisions from 1966 to 1968, according to estimations by the Seoul-based current affairs weekly Hankyoreh 21 and figures from Vietnam’s war crime investigation commission.
The Vietnamese women have, for the past decade, welcomed hundreds of groups of South Korean students, journalists and social activists to Quang Nam to learn about the massacres as part of a campaign initiated by Hankyoreh 21 in 1999.
Last year, they were invited to Seoul to attend a hypothetical trial on the war crimes committed by Korean troops in Vietnam that ended with a victory for Vietnamese massacre victims.
“It pains me greatly to retell my story over and over, but I will keep doing it because I don’t want history to repeat itself,” Thanh said.