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Feb 09, 2023 / 22:50

Vietnam looks toward future as South Korean court rules in favor of Vietnamese victims

The judgment represented the first official admission of South Korea’s responsibility for wartime atrocities and may open the door for other victims to file claims for losses.

Vietnam will put aside the past and look to the future in issues related to South Korean servicemen who killed innocent civilians in the Southeast Asian country more than five decades ago.

A survivor of the Phong Nhi massacre during the war in Vietnam testifies about the incident in South Korea in 2019. Photo: Yonhap

A Vietnamese diplomat told the media today [February 9] about the possibility of Vietnam’s filing lawsuits or taking legal measures against the Republic of Korea following the killings.

“In the spirit of putting aside the past and looking to the future, Vietnam supports the development of the Strategic Comprehensive Partnership between the two countries for the sake of the peoples,” Deputy Spokesman Doan Khac Viet of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

He said Vietnam encourages practical activities to overcome wartime consequences, reinforcing the relationship between the two countries and peoples.

On February 7, Yonhap reported that Seoul Central District Court ordered the Korean government to pay KRW30 million (US$24,000) in compensation to Nguyen Thi Thanh, 62, a Vietnamese woman who survived the massacre of civilians by South Korean troops in Vietnam on February 12, 1968.

The Vietnamese official said Vietnam keeps an eye on the ruling while promoting the protection of the legitimate rights of Vietnamese citizens.

According to the court, Thanh lost her mom, two sisters, and 71 neighbors in a massacre perpetrated by the 2nd Marine Brigade of the South Korean Marines while on a mission during the war in Vietnam.

The court dismissed the government’s argument that it was unclear if South Korean troops were responsible for the slaughter in the village of Phong Nhi in Vietnam’s Central Province of Quang Nam. The court called the incident “an illegal act.”

The ruling marks the first time a South Korean court has found the government responsible for the mass killings of Vietnamese civilians during the war.

Thanh, who filed a suit against the South Korean government in 2020, said the ruling would console the soul of the dead.