Photo: Blue Dragon Division at a welcome ceremony during the Vietnam War, c. 1971. Credit: National Archives.
On February 7, the Seoul Central District Court 서울중앙지방법원 ordered the Republic of Korea to pay KRW 30m (USD 23.7k) to 63-year-old Nguyen Thi Thanh, a survivor of a civilian massacre committed by South Korean troops during the Vietnam War.
In February 1968, South Korea’s Second Marine Infantry Division (also known as the Blue Dragon Division 청룡부대) rounded up 74 villagers in the town of Dien Ban, Quang Nam province, and shot them to death. Nguyen, who was 8 years old at the time, survived despite a severe gunshot wound.
The court’s decision is the first ruling by the South Korean judiciary to recognize the country’s responsibility for war crimes committed in the course of the Vietnam War.
Democratic Party chairman Lee Jae-myung 이재명 민주당 당대표 said he “supported and welcomed the court’s judgment,” adding: “in order to move forward to future-oriented bilateral relations between Korea and Vietnam, we must have the courage to face the error and correct it. Korea must not follow Japan down the wrong path.”