Sokor court rules vs. pro-Japanese collaborators

November 10, 2012 12:23 am 

SEOUL, Nov. 9 — An appellate court has ruled there is no problem with a government decision to cancel the posthumous honors of controversial independent fighters during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula decades ago, court officials said Friday.

The government last year scrapped its recognition of 19 people awarded "men of merit" standing for their contributions to Korean independence during the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule, after their pro-Japanese activities were later discovered.

Overturning a lower court's ruling, the Seoul High Court dismissed claims by two descendants of Kim Woo-hyun and Lee Hang-bal, who requested the court annul the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs' decision to strip the "men of merit" status from their ancestors.

A group of seven descendants filed the suit against the ministry, claiming it is unjust for the ministry to cancel the decoration just because their ancestors' names were included on a list of pro-Japanese collaborators.

A lower court sided with the seven plaintiffs in two separate rulings, saying the ministry is not entitled to cancel posthumous honors since only the president can make such a decision.

Dismissing the lower court's ruling, Judge Sung Baek-hyun of the Seoul High Court said, "After reviewing the circumstances, the president made a decision to cancel the posthumous honors through a document, in accordance with the Constitution and the law at the time."

"The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs only notified the families," he said, adding that the ministry can not be a subject or defendant of a lawsuit.

Five other suits, including those filed by a descendant of famous independent fighter Chang Ji-yeon, are still pending in the appellate court.

The descendants of men of merit are entitled to aid funds and other welfare benefits.(PNA/Yonhap)

HBC/LOR/JNC

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