Government end appeals in Sewol damages suit
The Ministry of Justice on Tuesday decided not to appeal against a recent ruling that orders additional compensation for the families of the Sewol ferry victims.
The decision follows another court ruling on Jan. 12 that the government is liable for secondary damage to the family members.
“The ministry decided to give up on appealing against the verdict that acknowledges the state’s responsibility in a damages suit filed by the families of the victims,” the ministry said in a press release.
Around 88 billion won ($71 million) of compensation will be paid to the plaintiffs, according to the verdict of the first and second trials.
In September 2015, 355 family members of the Sewol victims filed a damages lawsuit against the state and the ferry operator, Chonghaejin Marine, asking for 106.6 billion won in compensation for an insufficient response, safety checks and rescue procedures.
A district court in 2018 ordered the government and the ferry operator to pay a total of 72.3 billion won to the family members. The amount included 200 million won in compensation for the life of each victim, 80 million won to be provided to a spouse of a victim, 40 million won to a parent of a victim, 20 million won to a child of a victim and 10 million won to a sibling of a victim.
Of the 355 plaintiffs, 228 appealed the court’s verdict in 2018, saying that their privacy rights were violated by the Defense Security Command as the agency illegally surveilled the personal backgrounds and political tendencies of the victims’ families.
On Jan. 12, the Seoul High Court ordered the government to pay additional compensation of up to 5 million won to the family members, ruling that the state inflicted secondary damage on the victims’ families.
The compensation rulings have finally been confirmed seven years after the families first filed the lawsuits.
“The decision was made to let the victims recover from the damage by ending the trial quickly as it has been confirmed that the state has responsibility for the disaster,” said Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon.
The family members of the victims did not appeal against the court’s verdict. Appeals should be made within 14 days of the court’s ruling.
The Sewol ferry capsized off the coast of Jindo, South Jeolla in April 2014 while en route to Jeju Island, killing 304 passengers and crew.
Of those who died on the ferry, 250 were juniors from Danwon High School in Ansan, Gyeonggi.
BY CHO JUNG-WOO [email@example.com]