"At the time, I didn't even know what a working Comfort Women was. Even when I got married, I never had a comfortable day and listened to my husband's beggars, and when I went to the market, people teased me about how many people I dealt with. The tears I shed would have been enough to float a boat, but if it was because of the money, I gave up. I can't die until I apologize in Japan. What would I be if someone else gave it to me? How much will you ignore me" (Grandma Yang Keum-deok, victim of forced mobilization in Japan)

This is the text of a letter that Yang Keum-deok, a victim of forced mobilization in Japan, delivered to Foreign Minister Park Jin, who visited her in September last year. She was taken to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan in 9 when she was just 1944 years old. The girl, who dreamed of becoming a teacher, left her hometown after being deceived by a Japanese principal who told her that if she went to Japan, she would send her to junior high school and let her study. We arrived at the Mitsubishi factory in Nagoya, not junior high school. I spent more than 13 hours a day cleaning and painting airplane parts for more than 10 hours a day, losing my right eye and sense of smell. After liberation, he managed to return to his hometown of Naju, but he did not receive a single wage. Even after returning to her home country, the phrase "a woman who went to Japan" reminded her of her. Comfort Women was often mistaken for a victim and ridiculed, and even after she married, she had to deal with family discord.

Grandma Yang Geum-deok has been fighting for 31 years to hear a word of apology from Japan. On the 6th, I watched the government's announcement of a solution to compensate for forced mobilization damage with a bold expression. And when it was officially announced that reparations would be paid with financial resources raised by Korean companies instead of Japanese companies, he spoke out in a firm voice. "I should take it from the wrongdoer, not from it." Shortly after the government's announcement, some victims, including Grandma Yang, announced further lawsuits, saying that they could not agree to accept money from our company and the government, not the perpetrator, the Japanese war crimes company. In 2018, I thought the Supreme Court ruled that the liability of Japanese war crime companies for damages had been dismissed. Instead, the government's announcement sparked a new legal battle.

I have to get it from the person who did the wrong, but the third party reimbursed me?"

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First of all, the government and victims' representatives are completely at odds over whether a third-party domestic foundation can reimburse the debts of a Japanese war crime company without the victim's consent. Article 3 of the Civil Code stipulates that a third party cannot pay the debt on behalf of the debt without the "expression of intent" of the parties, and that the "third party" must have a "legal interest" with the debtor. If we look at existing precedents, this is the case of a debtor who has caused legal problems for himself because he or she persists without compensation. Based on these provisions of the Civil Code, the victims' representatives are of the view that the government's solution to "third-party reimbursement" is not possible in the first place. Why do you keep asking for surrogate reimbursement when our company has no interest in repaying the debt in the first place, and the victims say, "If the perpetrator doesn't give it, I won't recognize the reimbursement of my debt."

On the other hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has "reviewed and consulted leading domestic experts on various aspects of the legal possibilities," and its position is that there is no legal problem with "third-party reimbursement." There is no official legal basis. There is a view that compensation according to the judgment is a "statutory bond" and is different in nature from a "contract bond" between signs, so it can be reimbursed by a third party regardless of civil law. There is also an interpretation that if the debtor, a Japanese war crimes company, were to contribute money, there would be room to view the foundation as a "third party." The "co-existing debt acquisition" method, in which the Foundation takes over and reimburses debts in parallel with Japanese war crime companies that are debtors, has also been discussed in various forums. The prevailing view is that it is extremely unlikely that a Japanese war crimes company that does not recognize the debt itself for compensating for forced mobilization damages will agree to take over the debt on the premise of that debt. Ultimately, it seems that the court will have to weigh the logic of both sides, such as the nature of the foundation and the money it gave it.

Since some victims have refused to accept third-party foundation money, the likelihood of further lawsuits has increased. This is because there is a possibility that the Foundation will unilaterally entrust the compensation payable by Japanese war crime companies to the court in order to conclude the lawsuit, a so-called "collusion." "Deposit" refers to the process of depositing money in a court depository to settle debts when a creditor refuses to accept money. A high-ranking official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already said, "We understand that if the victims do not receive the verdict until the end, it is possible to make a deposit." Victims' representatives say that if the government and the foundation enforce the collusion process, they will fight back with an "annulment lawsuit." In this case, Japanese war crime companies will fall out of the issue of compensations for forced mobilization, and a situation may arise in which we will escalate into a bitter litigation battle between ourselves.

(Photo = Yonhap News)