Smith: To even speak of it was perilous

A big weekend approaches for the Sonoma County Museum and anyone possibly intrigued by the art and memories of a little-known massacre on a garden isle that for decades was a grim and guarded secret.

The bloodshed began April 3, 1948, on South Korea's Jeju Island, whose largest city is a sister city to Santa Rosa.

Many thousands of innocents were slain on the U.S.-supervised island, and scores of villages were torched by South Korean authorities bent on stamping out a Communist insurgency.

Until 1987, few outside of Korea knew of the "Jeju 4.3 Incident." Within the country, anyone who spoke of it risked dire consequences.

Author Hyun Ki-Young is one of several Koreans who'll be in Santa Rosa this weekend for events that include Friday evening's opening reception for "Camellia Has Fallen," the first international exhibition of contemporary art inspired by the massacre.

In 1978, Hyun was arrested and tortured for three days after the release of a story he'd written about the mass killings. He'll speak Sunday and there will also be full day of speakers, film and conversation on Saturday.

The multimedia art exhibit spawned by the 4.3 Incident stays at the museum until early May. Director Diane Evans predicts, "People will see it and want to come back."

THAT AIRPLANE parked outside the Flamingo Hotel the other day helped launch the fundraising campaign for this year's Human Race, dubbed, "A Time to Soar."

North Coast Air flight school trucked the plane in for the breakfast that kicked off the build-up to Sonoma County's largest benefit walk/run, which happens May 10.

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