top of page
Post: Blog2_Post
  • Writer's pictureAlexander Han

Money, Comfort Women and the Wartime Workers Lawsuit - The Greed Revealed

On October 30, 2018, the Korean Supreme Court, in the case of Korean wartime workers, ordered Nippon Steel Corporation to pay 100 million won (about 90,000USD) to each plaintiff. In the comfort women case, there are some examples where women such as Ms. Moon Ok-joo made a lot of money at the time, but it is hard to determine exactly how much money they earned. However, in the case of wartime workers, it is a well-documented fact that they received high wages without a problem. There are some cases where accrued wages had yet to be paid, but those only amounted to a small sum.

The Park Chung-hee administration was the first in Korea to provide compensation to Korean wartime workers in 1972. Based on the Treaty on Basic Relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan and the Claim Agreement in 1965, the Korean government received $ 300 million in grant and $ 200 million as loans from Japan. The Korean government then enacted a law regarding individual claims for reparations from Japan, and in accordance with that law, paid out deceased wartime workers 300 thousand won each.

In 2007, the Roh Moo-hyun administration established a law to support victims of forced mobilization abroad around the time of the Pacific War, and gave consolation money and financial support for medical care to a total of 72,631 people. It was the second government-level compensation. 20 million won was paid to those who had deceased. For the injured, compensations were paid depending on the severity of their injuries. Those who had survived with no injuries were provided with a set amount of annual medical care funding.

All of the four plaintiffs of the Nippon Steel Corporation case came back to Korea alive, so they were not eligible for the compensations provided by the Park Chung-hee administration. In relation to the Roh Moo-hyun administration's subsequent efforts to give out further compensations, the Korean government established a commission with the long title “the Commission under the Prime Minister on investigation of forced mobilization and support for the victims of forced mobilization abroad during the period of resistance to Japan”, which published a report of its activities. However, it was sloppy and incomplete. Thus, it did not contain any information of whether two out of the four plaintiffs received compensations or not. We do, however, know for sure that the other two did in fact receive financial compensation.

If these plaintiffs somehow were able to receive money from Nippon Steel Corporation, they would end up receiving three payments for one job. Since the Supreme Court’s decision was already made and the Korean government has stressed that the decision was valid, the money will certainly be paid in one form or another - maybe by the Korean government.

As of 2020, of the Koreans who went to Japan as a wartime worker, over one thousand people have filed some sort of lawsuits against Japanese corporations. Also, there are many people who have filed lawsuits against the Korean government because they probably think that the compensations paid until now were insufficient.

Every comfort woman and wartime worker has received multiple financial compensations so far, but still, lawsuits were filed again in the courts of both countries claiming further financial compensations. They first brought up the case in Japan, but all were lost. They did not give up, so they sued in Korean courts again, taking on the Japanese government and Japanese corporations, and they won this time.

There are other characteristics that are shared between the lawsuits filed by the comfort women and the wartime workers. First of all, the courts of the Republic of Korea ignored international laws and diplomatic promises, and refused to look at historical facts. They were swayed by the “Anti-Japan national sentiment law” of the supporting organizations and legal advocates, or took the lead in representing those sentiments. The Korean government, meanwhile, has behaved as if it were an unrelated third party, and urged the Japanese government and Japanese corporations to accept the decision by the Korean courts.

However, there is another that I want to draw your attention. It is money worship – greed which was revealed without caring about one’s nation’s honor and dignity. To put it simply, “money”.


The Third Way (January 19th, 2021) by Lee Woo-youn, a research fellow at the Naksungdae Institute of Economic Research in Korea

25 views0 comments
bottom of page