Families of forced labor victims criticize gov’t push to deposit compensation, urge apology from Japan

Victims of South Korean wartime forced labor under Japan's 1910-45 colonization and their bereaved families protested Tuesday against the government's recent move to deposit compensation for the victims, saying it is akin to killing the victims "a second time."

Seeking to mend ties with Japan, South Korea announced the plan in March to compensate Korean victims of Japanese wartime forced labor on its own without asking for contributions from Japanese firms.

Last week, the South Korean government began a process to deposit the compensation for two victims and families of two deceased victims who have rejected the government's third-party reimbursement plan warranting compensation through a fund created by the public foundation.

The four are among a total of 15 plaintiffs who won legal battles against Japanese companies, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Steel Corp., in South Korea's Supreme Court in 2018. Of those, 11 have agreed to accept the compensation scheme.

"Overriding a ruling we already won and seeking to deposit compensation is like killing my father and the late victims a second time," a daughter of Lee Chun-sik, one of the victims, said on his behalf during a press conference.

"There is no compromise with the government. We certainly need to receive an apology from the Japanese government," she said.

South Korea's foreign ministry said the government has made sufficient efforts to "seek understanding" from the victims regarding its bid to deposit the forced labor compensation.

"As we were applying for the process to deposit compensation last week, we have already sufficiently explained the government's position, and it is our understanding that the foundation has also explained its stance to the victims and their families," Lim Soo-suk, the ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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