Court upholds compensation ruling

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Court upholds compensation ruling

A Seoul court upheld a lower court’s ruling asking the government to pay compensation to the bereaved families of two former democracy activists, including former President Kim Dae-jung, who were jailed for anti-government activities during the 1970s.

The Seoul High Court ruled yesterday that the government should pay 198 million won ($184,734) to Lee Hee-ho, the wife of late President Kim, and Moon Sung-keun, a senior Democratic Party member and the youngest son of Moon Ik-hwan, a renowned pastor who participated in the democratization movement. President Kim died in 2009 while Moon died in 1994.

“At the second trial, they were acquitted of their charges, so the families could demand compensation from the government for jailing them [in the 1970s],” the verdict read. “Considering the duration of the jail terms and their psychological pain in jail, the government must pay compensation.”

According to the court, former President Kim was jailed for 1,023 days and Moon was imprisoned for 1,060 days. The court calculated the total compensation to be 194,000 won per day, the highest daily compensation under the law. The money will be given to their successors - Kim’s wife and Moon’s son.

The ruling came after the Seoul High Court acquitted all of the 16 former democracy activists, including Kim and Moon, in July for violating Presidential Emergency Measure No. 9, a dictatorial decree declared by Park Chung Hee, the president at the time.

Decree No. 9 forbade citizens from participating in any political activities, including making critical comments about the government.

In March, the Constitutional Court ruled that decree Nos. 1, 2 and 9 were unconstitutional, effectively removing the last vestiges of the military dictatorship from Korea’s modern history.

Decree No. 1, declared in January 1974, banned protest or opposition to the Yushin Constitution, the authoritarian law established by Park, which allowed him to arrest protesters without a warrant from the court. Decree No. 2 allowed Park to launch a military trial to punish those who protested the Yushin Constitution.

In February 1976, in front of the Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul, Kim and Moon read out a joint statement criticizing the authoritarian rule of Park, stating that “his sole dictatorship has destroyed freedom, democracy and the principle of the nation’s separation of powers.”

They were indicted for violating Presidential Decree No. 9 and each received five-year jail terms in March 1977. Their political careers were also suspended for five years.


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