Panel rejects compensation claim by Korean War survivors

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Panel rejects compensation claim by Korean War survivors

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Doc: 00120277


Sang-Hun Choe (Associated Press Writer)

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Copyright 1998 By The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ A government committee rejected a demand for compensation today by South Koreans who claim that U.S. forces massacred hundreds of civilians in their villages during the first month of the Korean War.
The committee ruled that a five-year statute of limitations on such claims had expired long ago. But it did not try to determine whether the massacre had actually taken place, and the villagers said they would take their claim to court.
Last August, 30 Korean War survivors filed the claim to South Korea's Compensation Committee, which tries to resolve such cases before they result in litigation.
In a preliminary ruling in December, the Compensation Committee, which did not conduct its own field investigation, said it believed that people had died in the villages but that it found no evidence of U.S. involvement.
Jim Coles, spokesman of the U.S. military command in Seoul, refused comment on the ruling. The U.S. military has denied any American involvement in the alleged massacre.
According to villagers, in the last week of June 1950, American warplanes bombed and strafed hundreds of unarmed civilians in and around their villages, killing about 100. The villages are near Yongdong, a city 105 miles southeast of Seoul.
They claim that American soldiers later herded the survivors into two railroad underpasses and shot and killed about 300.
Some survivors believe that the American soldiers may have been motivated by steps that North Korea had taken in the first few months of the war, when U.S. and South Korean forces were being driven south in retreat.
The survivors say that North Korean forces disguised as civilians had infiltrated the American defense lines in those chaotic early days, and killed some U.S. forces.
"We cannot accept the committee's ruling," Chung Eun-yong, 75, a representative of the villagers, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "We will continue to fight to get compensation and an apology from the American government."
Chung accused the South Korean government of trying to cover up the alleged massacre to avoid embarrassing the United States, which fought on its side during the 1950-53 Korean War and remains its closest ally.
Villagers say they took decades to file their compensation claim because South Korea's past authoritarian governments would not have allowed it. President Kim Dae-jung, the first opposition leader to come to power in South Korea, won election in December and took office in February.

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Sang-Hun Choe (Associated Press Writer), “Panel rejects compensation claim by Korean War survivors,” No Gun Ri Digital Archives, accessed October 20, 2019,