Episode 2440 – Chickens come home to roost for South Korean Vietnam Vets

Nguyen Thi Thanh, a survivor of the massacre in Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat whose case against the South Korean government ended in her favor, stands near the area where the massacre took place in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam on July 12, 2021. A court ruling held that South Korean troops were responsible for a civilian massacre that killed more than 70 villagers in Vietnam during the war. (Linh Pham/The New York Times)

Episode 2440 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about the court ruling in Seoul, South Korea that favored the victim of a massacre in the Vietnam War. The featured story appeared in the Japan Times and was titled: In first, South Korea ordered to compensate Vietnam war victim. It was submitted by Choe Sang-Hun.

South Korea was one of the U.S.’s staunchest allies in the American Vietnam War. That country sent 320,000 troops to Vietnam, making it the largest foreign contingent fighting alongside U.S. forces in the war. But rumors have long persisted that South Korean troops committed mass killings of Vietnamese civilians.

On February 7, 2023, a court in Seoul has ruled that South Korean marines were guilty of committing a massacre of unarmed villagers during the Vietnam War and ordered the South Korean government to compensate one of the Vietnamese victims.

The ruling Tuesday was the first of its kind and expected to set a precedent in the country, where the government has long refused to address allegations of civilian massacres by South Korean troops in Vietnam.

During the trial, the government’s lawyers said that there was not enough evidence to prove South Korean marines had committed a massacre. Even if it had occurred, they said, it should be considered an unfortunate but not illegal part of guerrilla warfare between the Viet Cong and South Korean marines.

Not helping the government’s contentions was the testimony of South Korean Vietnam Vet Ryu Jin-seong, 76, a former member of the South Korean marine unit accused of killing the civilians in Nguyen’s village, endorsed her account.

Ryu said this about his willingness to testify in the trial: “I stepped forward to testify in court because nobody else would tell the truth. South Korea must come clean on its past.”

Listen to episode 2440 and discover more about the court ruling in Seoul, South Korea that favored the victim of a massacre in the Vietnam War.


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