By Lee Tae-hoon
A state-run anti-corruption watchdog is taking a stand against the government’s decision to provide compensation of only 5,000 won ($4.3) to families of fallen Korean War veterans, an official said Sunday.
“The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) has decided to ask the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA) to raise the absurd amount of compensation to a sensible level,” Kim Do-won, an official of the commission, said.
He said the decision was made following an administrative appeal by a sister of a Korean War veteran killed in action at the age of 18 in November 1950.
She filed for compensation in December 2008 after belatedly finding that her brother lost his life in the fratricidal war. The MPVA initially turned it down on the grounds that such a claim must be filed within five years from the date of death, and later offered 5,000 won after she filed a lawsuit.
She did not know how her brother died because she was only two years old at the time and the rest of her family members, except her mother, were killed in bombing raids during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Her mother suffered from amnesia due to the bombardment.
“The MPVA made the decision on the assumption that the 50,000 hwan that the government offered to bereaved families of the war dead in the 1960s translated into 5,000 won,” Kim said.
The hwan was the currency of Korea between 1953 and 1962 and was later replaced with the won at a rate of 1 won to 10 hwan.
The official said 50,000 hwan is equivalent to $3,000 today, taking into account the appreciation of commodity prices over the decades.
The MPVA has been reluctant to make payments to families of war veterans partly because it is unable to verify who should receive compensation or not as many of the relevant documents have been destroyed or lost.