LKP slams Incheon for Korean War reparations

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LKP slams Incheon for Korean War reparations

The conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Friday criticized a decision by the Incheon city legislative council to compensate residents for damages incurred by the U.S.-led landing at the port city during the Korean War.

The Incheon Metropolitan Council approved a municipal ordinance on March 15 that will offer subsidies to residents of Wolmi Island who suffered damages from the 1950 military operation or their descendants.

The surprise amphibious landing at Incheon resulted in a critical strategic reversal in favor of the U.S.-led United Nations troops and South Korea during the Korean War. The operation, which took place from Sept. 15 to 19, 1950, allowed the recapture of Seoul two weeks later. The operation, led by U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, involved bombings of Incheon by UN forces.

“The Incheon city council, where the Democratic Party [DP] controls the majority, created the compensation plan,” said Rep. Kim Jin-tae of the LKP. “Do they want to compensate the people for all past damages, such as those from Donghak Peasant Revolution [in 1894], the Qing invasion of Joseon [in 1636] and the Japanese invasions of Korea [from 1592 to 1598]?”

The Incheon Metropolitan Council has 37 city legislators. Including its speaker, 34 of them are DP members. Two are LKP members and one is a member of the Justice Party.

“You can ask for war reparations from the vanquished, but a country does not compensate its own people,” Kim said. “If there will be compensations for the Korean War, they should be offered to the entire people.”

Kim also said offering compensations to the residents would only satisfy Kim Il Sung, the late founder of the North who initiated the North’s invasion of the South in 1950.

It is not the first time that liberal politicians and civic groups attempted to compensate residents of Wolmi Island over the UN bombings during the Incheon landing operation. Many residents of the island were killed during the operation or forced to abandon their homes. In 2006, a restitution measure was first proposed by a lawmaker of the Uri Party, a predecessor of the DP, but no action was taken.

A group of former residents of Wolmi Island filed a suit at the Incheon District Court in February 2011, demanding a total of 135 million won ($119,200) in compensation. They said the Ministry of National Defense, Incheon Metropolitan Government, the U.S. government and the United Nations must together pay 3 million won for each household that used to reside on the island. The residents, however, lost the court battle.

It is the third time that the city council tried to pass an ordinance to award compensations. In 2011 and 2014, a DP lawmaker submitted a similar bill, but it was voted down.

“If compensations are sought for the damages caused by the Incheon landing operation, they must ask for the money from the North, since it caused enormous damage by starting the Korean War,” said Rep. Jun Hee-kyung, spokeswoman of the LKP. “They are saying nothing to the North, but supporting the civic groups which demand compensation from the UN forces that helped the South. Is this what the Moon Jae-in administration refers to as justice?”

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