Court favors ex-soldier injured during martial arts

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Court favors ex-soldier injured during martial arts

An appellate court has recognized an ex-soldier who was injured during martial arts training while in the military as “a person of national merit,” court officials said yesterday.

The Seoul High Court upheld the lower court ruling made in favor of the 34-year-old man identified only by his surname Lee in a lawsuit filed against the chief of a southern Seoul branch of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

The former judoka seriously injured his knee upon landing after demonstrating tile-breaking kicks for fellow soldiers during a martial arts training session shortly after joining the Army in October 1998.

He received hospital treatment several times but was later discharged from the service in August 1999, according to court documents.

About 10 years after the incident, Lee applied for “meritorious person” status eligible for a monthly allowance and other welfare benefits, but the local veterans affairs office rejected the request, saying he was partly responsible for the injury.

He then filed the suit against the office, demanding the decision be reversed. Last September, a Seoul district court ruled in favor of him, saying he involuntarily participated in the martial arts training.

“Considering the fact that he could not reject his platoon leader’s order because he just joined the military, the injury was not totally his fault,” the high court said in a verdict.

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