S. Korean Foundation Begins Procedures to Deposit Compensation Money for Wartime Requisitioned Workers

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The South Korean Supreme Court

SEOUL — South Korea’s Foreign Ministry announced Monday that a foundation of the country had begun procedures to deposit with courts an amount equivalent to compensation for four plaintiffs who demand certain Japanese companies pay them for their labor in Japan during World War II, but who have refused to accept money from the foundation.

A series of lawsuits filed by individuals from the Korean Peninsula who claim they were requisitioned wartime laborers has been the largest stumbling block in Japan-South Korea relations.

If the deposit-related procedures are authorized and the money is transferred to the court, it will be the legal equivalent of the plaintiffs’ having received the money, according to South Korean government sources.

In a 2018 ruling, the South Korean Supreme Court ordered the Japanese companies to pay compensation to 15 South Korean plaintiffs.

In March this year, Seoul presented to the plaintiffs a resolution in which the South Korean government-affiliated foundation would pay money equivalent to the compensation ordered by the Supreme Court.

So far, one plaintiff and 10 bereaved family members of former wartime laborers have received payments from the foundation.

The remaining four plaintiffs and bereaved family members of deceased plaintiffs have called for the South Korean-based Japanese companies’ assets to be seized and cashed out.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs who have refused payment from the foundation insisted Monday that the depositing of money with courts should not be authorized without the plaintiffs’ consent.

It is possible that the plaintiffs will file a fresh lawsuit over the validity of the planned move.