USFK denies liability in suit
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea officials said Thursday that provisions of the U.S.-South Korean Status of Forces Agreement mean it’s not required to pay part of the lawsuit damages won by a group of South Korean residents near an island bombing range.
“USFK conducts regular training missions at Maehyang-Ri range,” according to a USFK statement, referring to the training area on South Korea’s west coast.
The statement read, “Article V of the Status of Forces Agreement states: ‘The government of the Republic of Korea assures the use of such facilities and areas to the government of the United States and will hold the government of the United States as well as its agencies and employees harmless from any third party claims which may be advanced in connection with such use.’ Based on this article, the United States is not authorized to pay compensation in this case.”
The South Korean government has until Tuesday to pay almost $10,000 to each of 14 plaintiffs in the suit, which was brought in 2001. The residents claimed the bombing runs damaged property; the South Korean government appealed twice, but the South Korean Supreme Court ruled in favor of the residents in March.