I received news yesterday (9th) that the Ministry of Defense has appealed against a court ruling that South Korean troops killed civilians during the
Vietnam War and that our government must compensate. The Vietnamese government then issued an official statement saying that it was very sorry.

First, Kang Cheng-wan.

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Yesterday afternoon, when news of
the South Korean Ministry of National Defense's appeal became known, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed strong regret at a regular press conference.

[Pham Thu Hang/Deputy Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam: We deeply regret the appeal of the Korean government against the Korean court's decision. This decision does not reflect the objective truth of the matter.]

As a comprehensive and strategic partner, he expressed hope that the Korean government would properly recognize and respect history, and asked for practical and effective action to overcome the damage of war.

[Pham Thu Hang/Deputy Foreign Ministry Spokesperson of Vietnam: The Vietnamese government's position is to put aside the past and look to the future, but that does not mean that historical truth can be denied.]

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The Vietnamese government's official expression of regret is even higher than comments issued after the first-instance ruling last month to the effect that it "respects the legitimate rights of the Vietnamese people."

Major media, including Vietnam's national broadcaster, reported the news of our government's appeal and the press conference of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as top news.

South Koreans came to Vietnam to apologize for the massacre, he said, along with the news of the 1th anniversary of the Quang Nam massacre held last month.

[Ha Thi Tan/Da Nang citizens: Of course we must compensate those who were massacred, their families.]

Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would respect and observe the judiciary's process, but said it was in close communication with Vietnamese diplomatic authorities.

(Video Interview: Choi Choi-woong, Video Editor: Park Jung-sam, Screen Source: Vietnam National Broadcaster VTC)


Vietnam, not only in the villages where the victims who filed lawsuits against the ROK government live, but also in other places, there are facilities to commemorate the victims of the ROK military.

Reporter Kim Sang-min went to Vietnam and listened to the villagers' stories.

Binh Hoa, a small town in
Quang Ngai province in central Vietnam.

At the entrance to the village, you can see an old monument erected in a weedy clearing.

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[Nguyen Tan Duc/Binh Hoa villager: It's the 'Binh Hoa Massacre', I've been living here since I was a kid and know it.]

Under the heading Hate Rain, it says that over three days in December 1966, the ROK Marine Blue Dragon Corps massacred 12 civilians.

"All generations will remember the iniquity that will reach heaven," and there is resentment against the South Korean army, such as the massacre of Yang Min and the wiping out of houses, graves, and villages.

[Doan Yin/Binh Hoa massacre survivor: People fell (shot) even though they begged not to kill, it was so pitiful.]

There is also a large memorial monument in the village of Pongni and the village of Hami, a 430-minute drive away.

On February 20, 1968, ten days after the Pongni incident, 2 villagers were reportedly killed by the Blue Dragon Force.

On the back of the memorial monument, which gathered the names of the 22 people who died in the area, there was a long inscription saying that the village was stained with red blood because of the brutal Korean army.

But now, unrecognizable, the entire back is covered with a lotus painting.

At the end of 135, when the ROK Government demanded a correction and even tried to persuade the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to increase hatred against Koreans, it was decided to cover the monument altogether.

However, Mr. Nguyen Koi, who was the head of the Hami Village Bereaved Family Liaison Group at the time, said that even if some of the inscriptions are corrected, he would like to remove the lotus flowers to reveal the truth.

[Nguyen Koi/Representative of the families of the Hami massacre: (Vietnam) also maintains normal relations with the United States, which invaded us. Not to mention South Korea, which was forcibly taken there. Now there is no hatred. I just want you to admit the facts.]

Survivor Nguyen Thi Hong escaped from his grandfather's house that caught fire, leaving behind his dead family.

[Nguyen Thi Hong/Hami Massacre survivor: To escape, I had to step on my dead family. My body was completely covered in blood.]

He also said that before the massacre, a South Korean soldier had pushed his brother inside an air-raid shelter and saved him.

[Nguyen Thi Hong/Survivor of the Hami massacre: I already knew that morning (of the massacre). I couldn't let him die. There must have been soldiers in tears and shooting.]

Unlike Pongni, who won the case at the first trial, most of the other affected villages have no evidence such as photographs or documents from the time.

Victims of Hami village also applied to the Korea Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the truth, but have not yet received a response.

[Nguyen Thi Thanh/Hami massacre survivor: Time is running out for the victims, but I'm tired of not having anything.]

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(Video Interview: Choi Choi-woong, Video Editing: Hwang Ji-young, CG: Choi Sky, Im Chan-hyuk, Photo credit: Hanbe Peace Foundation)

reporter Kim Sang-min, who has been covering

Q. What are the lawsuits other than the "Pongni case"?

[Reporter Kim Sang-min: The case of Pongni village, which won the case in the first trial last month, is unusual. The U.S. military filed the lawsuit because they did a post-mortem investigation and even took pictures. That's why the defense attorney in the Pongni case says that it is difficult to achieve the outcome that the victims want through litigation that is time-consuming and expensive, and that imposes a high level of burden of proof on the victim.]

Q. What is the position of the two governments so far?

[Reporter Kim Sang-min: Past presidents of our country have mentioned the Vietnam War, but they have expressed regret. Former President Kim Dae-jung used the words "sorry" and "comfort," former President Roh Moo-hyun used the words "debt of heart," and former President Moon Jae-in used the words "regret." There was no direct mention or apology regarding the massacre of civilians, but the analysis is that the Vietnamese government's willingness to take into account our government's passive attitude and our economic cooperation with the ROK Government also played a role. ]

Q. What is the solution?

[Reporter Kim Sang-min: We can refer to our past example. Just as the United States and the ROK jointly investigated the No Gun Ri Yangmin massacre that occurred during the Korean War, this is a way to cross-verify based on the data held by the Korean and Vietnamese governments. As Vietnam has already emerged as Korea's third largest trading partner, the voice of our government is gaining persuasion that preemptive measures are needed before this issue escalates into a potential conflict between the two countries in the future. The quickest and surest expression of intent will probably be the waiver of the appeal by the Ministry of National Defense.]

(Video Interview: Choi Woong, Video Editing: Park Jung-sam)