A Seoul court ruled that Nguyen Thi Thanh should be compensated for injuries sustained in a 1968 mass murder of Vietnamese civilians.
The South Korean government has appealed a court order to pay compensation to a Vietnamese woman who was the victim of atrocities committed by South Korean forces during the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
The government last month appealed a decision by a Seoul court that ordered the state to pay 63-year-old Nguyen Thi Thanh 30 million won ($22,730) in compensation for the injuries she sustained when she massacre of civilians by South Korean troops. in 1968.
An estimated 300,000 South Korean soldiers fought alongside U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the award of compensation to Thanh was the first legal acknowledgment of South Korea’s responsibility for the atrocities committed by its forces during the bloody conflict.
“We will fully cooperate with the litigation process under ongoing consultation with related agencies to obtain an appeal ruling based on substantial truth,” the country’s defense ministry said in a statement to Reuters news agency.
Thanh was only eight years old when South Korean marines raided her village of Phong Nhi in Central Vietnam on February 12, 1968, killing more than 70 unarmed civilians, including five members of Thanh’s family.
She suffered a gunshot wound to her stomach during the rampage, which killed her mother and two siblings, forcing her to recover in hospital for nearly a year.
The Seoul Central District Court said in its Feb. 7 ruling on the case that the marines’ killing of Vietnamese villagers was “a clearly unlawful act.”
“It is recognized that the plaintiff’s relatives were killed at the scene and that she suffered serious injuries… from the firing by naval forces,” the court said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup responded to the court’s ruling last month, stating that his ministry was confident that “absolutely no massacres had been committed by our troops” during the Vietnam War.
The court’s decision to compensate the victim had damaged the honor of South Korean soldiers, he said.
“We cannot agree with the ruling… We will hold discussions with related agencies to determine our next legal action,” he added at the time, foreshadowing the appeal announced Thursday.
South Korean troops have been involved in a number of mass murders during the Vietnam conflict with a study estimating that thousands of innocent Vietnamese may have been killed by South Korea’s armed forces.