The Korea Herald


[Newsmaker] Highest court rules in favor of victims of state violence in South Korea

By Claire Lee

Published : Aug. 12, 2018 - 17:25

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South Korea’s highest court ruled Sunday that the state should compensate the financial damage suffered by Koreans who lost their jobs after their parents were falsely accused of being North Korean spies by the country’s authoritarian government in the 1980s.

The victims’ parents, Nah Soo-yeon, 90, and Nah Jin, 85, are siblings. In 1981, they were imprisoned after the Chun Doo-hwan administration falsely accused them of being North Korean sympathizers. Prior to the trials, the siblings were illegally taken into custody and were tortured until they gave false confessions that they had visited North Korea.

Soon after their parents were found guilty and sentenced to jail terms, their adult son and son-in-law, who were working at conglomerates, were fired from their positions.  

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

After serving 15 years and seven years in prison, respectively , the siblings were found not guilty in 2012, and the victims and their family members were given up to some 360 million won ($319,000) in compensation.

Following the ruling, the victims’ adult children also filed a separate compensation suit, claiming that it had been virtually impossible for them to find employment again, as they were severely stigmatized as children of North Korean spies.

A Seoul court earlier did not acknowledge the state’s responsibility for the financial damage suffered by the sibling’s children, claiming it was their private employers, not the Korean government, who unjustly fired them from their positions.

The Supreme Court annulled the decision and returned the case to the local court, saying that the state violence against their parents had been partially responsible for the children’s loss of jobs and the financial hardships that followed.

By Claire Lee (