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Govt. to compensate victims of wartime civilian killings

The government will have to compensate bereaved families of civilians shot to death by military and police officers 68 years ago based on false accusations that they were communists during the Korean War.

In a damage suit filed by the family of a victim surnamed Yang killed in the 1950 manslaughter in Boseong, South Jeolla Province, the Seoul Central District Court ruled that the government should pay about 100 million won ($88,635) to Yang’s family. 


In 2008, the government-led Truth and Reconciliation Commission looked into mass killings in four regions across the country during the 1950-53 war. It identified 35 victims, including Yang.

In July 1950, Yang, who worked at an elementary school in Boseong at the time, was apprehended by police after he rang the school bell.

Police interrogated Yang, accusing him of sending a signal to “(North Korean communist) partisans,” or communist guerilla, to escape.

Yang was later released, but was again apprehended and shot to death at a mountain valley in December 1950 after the South Korean military reclaimed Boseong. The North’s Korean People’s Army had occupied much of South Korea including Boseong just months after the war began in June 1950.

Judge Seol Min-soo said in his verdict that there were more than enough records to acknowledge that the deceased was a victim of the civilian killings in the eastern part of South Jeolla Province.

“The government must compensate for the family’s financial and psychological damage as the Boseong police violated his basic rights by killing him without a just reason or legitimate procedure,” the judge wrote.

The judge ordered compensation of 80 million won for Yang, and 8 million won each for his family members, citing the pain, social bias against the bereaved family that continued for a long time after Yang’s death, and their financial hardships, as well as the graveness of the illegal act committed by the government.

As years have passed since the commission listed Yang as a victim in 2008, the government had claimed that the three-year term of the right to claim for damages had long expired.

Yang’s family appealed that they only learned in late 2016 that he was officially listed as a victim by the commission.

The court ruled in favor of the bereaved family, saying there is no evidence proving that the government tried to inform them of the finding. 

By Kim So-hyun (