Support our mission

SEOUL — The South Korean government has until Tuesday to pay nearly $10,000 in lawsuit damages to each of 14 residents near a U.S. fighter training range, officials said this week.

On March 18, the South Korean Supreme Court upheld a 2001 ruling in a case brought by Maehyang-ri residents who wanted reparations for bombing and strafing runs on the nearby Koon-ni range — a small, uninhabited island accessible by land only when tides are low. The case, appealed twice by the government, was the first successful lawsuit of its kind.

Under the Supreme Court ruling, the government has seven days to pay damages once a plaintiffs’ petition is turned over to the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office; the residents submitted their petition Tuesday.

South Korean government officials said this week they will pay the award, then seek compensation from the U.S. military through provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement.

According to the provisions, the U.S. military could pay up to 75 percent of damages that were the result of on-duty activities. The actual percentage is calculated through a complex formula, U.S. and South Korean officials have said.

The case is one of a series of similar claims working their way through South Korean courts. Another lawsuit involving more than 2,200 residents near Koon-ni range was filed in 2001 and is being adjudicated.

In January, a Seoul district court ruled the government — and not the U.S. military — was to pay eight Paju City residents some $35,000 for 1,800 acres of land that have been used as parts of Story and Oklahoma ranges in the 2nd Infantry Division area. The ruling has been appealed.

Also in late January, a Seoul judge ruled that more than 1,800 residents near Kunsan Air Base should get lump sum payments of either $936 or $1,548 for enduring noise from jet fighters over the past three years.

That suit was also brought against the South Korean government.

The plaintiffs in the case appealed the verdict, asking for a higher award. The government also appealed for dismissal of the case.


Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up