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In a first, South Korea must compensate a Vietnam War massacre survivor

Incense sticks are placed at a monument to honor massacre victims in Vietnam.
Hoang Dinh Nam
/
AFP via Getty Images
Incense sticks are placed at a monument to honor massacre victims in Vietnam.

SEOUL — A South Korean court has ordered the government to compensate the survivor of a massacre committed by South Korean troops during the Vietnam War. It's the first time a court has found the South's government responsible for such atrocities.

Nguyen Thi Thanh was 7 in 1968 when she says South Korean marines killed five of her family members and shot her in the stomach.

According to U.S. military documents and survivors, the marines killed more than 70 civilians and wounded 20 in two villages in Quang Nam province.

This came weeks before the My Lai massacre, committed by U.S. troops, further South.

Nguyen Thi Thanh sued the South Korean government in 2020 for nearly $24,000. The court rejected the government's argument that Viet Cong guerrillas were mixed in with the locals.

South Korea sent more than 300,000 troops to fight in Vietnam, the biggest contingent of any U.S. ally.

This originally appeared in NPR's Newscast.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.