Thursday March 23, 2023

Seoul court rules South Korea responsible for Vietnam War massacre

February 08, 2023

SEOUL: A Seoul court delivered a landmark ruling on Tuesday holding the South Korean government accountable for a massacre committed by its soldiers in the Vietnam War, ordering it to pay compensation.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, South Korea sent troops to support America´s doomed fight against the communist North Vietnamese during a bloody two-decade conflict that ended with the fall of Saigon and Vietnam´s reunification in 1975.

South Korean marines were accused of killing around 70 civilians during a raid on February 12, 1968 in a case brought to court in Seoul by a Vietnamese woman who survived the massacre.

Seoul´s Central District Court ruled that victim Nguyen Thi Thanh should be compensated with 30 million won ($23,800), plus interest, for the mass killings in the town of Phong Nhi in Vietnam´s central Quang Nam province.

Thanh, now 62, who was injured in the raid and lost family including her mother, filed the lawsuit in 2020 seeking compensation from the South Korean government. Over the past three years, Vietnamese witnesses and journalists who covered the 1968 incident have appeared in court to testify.

The court eventually sided with the victim, rejecting the government´s argument that it was hard to prove Korean troops were the perpetrators. Marines had “threatened the plaintiff´s family with guns and took them outside to shoot them”, the court said in its verdict, according to Yonhap News Agency.