Nguyen Thi Thanh, who said that she was a survivor of the mass killing of about 70 people in Phong Nhat – Phong Nhi Village in the central province of Quang Nam in 1968 by South Korean marines, filed a damages suit against the South Korean government in 2020, seeking ₩30 million as compensation. Thanh said she lost her family members and received gunshot injuries during the incident, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
The Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of Thanh, ordering the state to compensate her the aforementioned amount of money, plus interests.
While the South Korean government argued that it was immune to the damages suit filed by a Vietnamese due to an agreement signed between Vietnam, South Korea and the U.S., the court rejected the argument.
It also rejected another claim that the South Korean marines' involvement in the murder has not been clearly proven, or that it was justifiable in the context of the war.
Thanh said she was “tremendously delighted” to hear the ruling, adding that it would be a consolation to the victims.
Thanh's lawyers said her case was the first acknowledgment by an official South Korean body of the mass killings of civilians during the Vietnam War.
Thanh is among the few survivors of the massacres South Korean troops committed across several villages in central Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She was eight when she witnessed the murders of her mother, brother and sister on the morning of February 12, 1968, just a few days after a South Korean jeep was blown up by a landmine, Thanh recalls.
South Korea deployed more than 300,000 troops to Vietnam from 1964 to 1973, second only to the U.S. military force.
Around 9,000 Vietnamese civilians were killed in the South Korean troops’ massacres, which also took place in the nearby provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Quang Ngai, according to the Korean – Vietnam Peace Foundation.
The foundation was set up in 2015 with 64 members from all walks of life working to raise awareness of South Korea's historical responsibility in the Vietnam War.
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