President Moon Jae-in will attend a memorial ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of a bloody massacre on the country's southern island of Jeju on Tuesday, becoming the first head of state to do so in a decade, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.
The liberal president is set to join some 15,000 attendees, including the surviving victims of the Jeju April 3 incident and bereaved families of the deceased, at a peace park on the island.
During the ceremony, Moon is expected to deliver a speech stressing the need to prevent such a tragedy from happening again and pledging to provide compensation to the victims and excavate the remains of the missing.
More than 10,000 islanders are estimated to have been killed and nearly 3,600 to have gone missing during the government-civilian clash from 1948-1954, an outgrowth of Korea's ideological division following its 1945 liberation from Japan's colonial rule.
The incident has returned to the spotlight, as Moon, who took power last May, pushes to address the grievances of the victims of past state abuses. Establishing the truth about the Jeju massacre is one of his 100 major election promises.
Just a month before last year's presidential election in May, Moon visited Jeju and pledged to attend the memorial ceremony this year as president and elevate its status to a national anniversary event.
In 2006, then-President Roh Moo-hyun traveled to the island to attend a memorial service for the victims -- the first time a South Korean leader had done so.