A Seoul appellate court, in a retrial, ruled Friday against South Korean
Vietnam War veterans demanding compensation for their exposure to
Ruling in favor of two U.S. producers of toxic
chemicals, the Seoul High Court did not recognize epidemiological
correlations between the defoliant and diseases such as lymphoma
suffered by the more than 5,000 plaintiffs.
"Agent Orange producers did not thoroughly verify harmful effects of dioxin on human beings," the court said in its ruling.
court, however, said it cannot be concluded that the exposure to the
defoliant directly caused such diseases. "The causes of these diseases
are very complicated," the court said.
A total of 16,579 South
Korean veterans and their families filed two separate lawsuits in 1999
against Dow Chemical Co. and Monsanto, seeking more than 5 trillion won
($4.9 billion) in damages, but a district court ruled against the
In 2006, the Seoul High Court, in a landmark ruling,
overturned the decision and ordered the two firms to pay compensation
ranging from 6 million won to 46 million won to the veterans for
physical handicaps they sustained from the defoliant.
the first time for a South Korean court to rule against the U.S.
defoliant manufacturers responsible for using Agent Orange in Vietnam in
the 1960s and 1970s in order to deny the People's Army of Vietnam
refuge in the jungle terrain.
The Supreme Court, however, in 2013
reversed the lower court ruling and sent the case back for review,
excluding a favorable ruling on 39 soldiers who have suffered from
Upholding the lower court's decision for
compensation, the Supreme Court recognized the link between their
exposure to the defoliant and the disease for the first time in the
More than 4.7 million Vietnamese are said to continue to
suffer from a range of illnesses, including birth defects,
cardiovascular disease, cancer and nervous disorders because of the
chemical defoliant dropped during the war. South Korea fought alongside
the U.S against communist North Vietnam in the war.
dispatched about 320,000 soldiers to Vietnam to become the largest
foreign contingent of U.S. allies fighting in the war, with 5,000 killed
in action and nearly 11,000 others wounded, according to official
South Korean activists estimate the number of Korean victims of the chemicals at around 150,000. (Yonhap)