Accused collaborator’s land returned

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Accused collaborator’s land returned

The Supreme Court upheld a ruling yesterday that reverses the state’s 2007 confiscation of some 30 billion won ($26.6 million) in assets held by the family of a man accused of collaborating with the Japanese colonial government.

The court ruled in favor of Lee Hae-seung’s 71-year-old grandson, who appealed the state’s seizure of his property, which was the largest confiscation from former collaborators ever. The grandson inherited the assets in the form of real estate.

Lee Hae-seung, the fifth-generation descendant of the father of King Cheoljong (1831-63) of the Joseon Dynasty, received the title of “marquis” and government bonds worth 168,000 won (approximately 6.7 billion won ($5.9 million) adjusted for inflation) from the Japanese government just two months after Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula in 1910.

The Investigative Commission on Pro-Japanese Collaborators’ Property was established in 2006 and recently disbanded this July. The body confiscated 9,645 square meters (103,818 square feet) of land and real estate from 168 descendants of pro-Japanese collaborators in its four-year term.

It ordered the confiscation of 192 parcels of land owned by Lee’s family in 2007. The grandson appealed that Lee was given his title because he was a member of Korea’s royal family, not because he supported Japan’s annexation of Korea. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the title does not appear to have been given in connection with Lee’s collaboration.

A local district court had earlier ruled in favor of the state committee’s confiscation, saying that Lee Hae-seung was connected to the annexation via a commendation he received in 1912 for contributing to Korea-Japan relations.

By Yoo Sun-young, Yonhap []
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