March 10, 2023
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam deeply regrets the decision of the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s Government to appeal a local court ruling in favour of a Vietnamese citizen who sued them for damages in a massacre committed by RoK soldiers in 1968.
Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Phạm Thu Hằng, made the statement on Thursday in response to the queries on the new development. The ministry says it is following the case with keen interest.
“Our policy is to put aside the past and look towards the future, but it does not mean that we deny the truth or history,” the deputy spokesperson Hằng stressed.
“In the spirit of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Việt Nam asks that the RoK understand and respect the historical truth, encourages meaningful and effective actions to alleviate the consequences of war, and strengthen the friendships and positive cooperation between the two countries and peoples.”
In a historic ruling in February, the Seoul Central District Court ordered the Government to compensate 30 million won (nearly US$23,000) to Nguyễn Thị Thành, a 63-year-old woman who survived a mass killing of civilians in the central province of Quảng Nam on February 12, 1968, during the height of the war against US aggressions in Việt Nam.
Thanh said in the lawsuit that started in 2020 that she lost family members and suffered serious injuries during the raid by RoK marines. She was just eight years old at the time.
The court rejected the RoK Government’s arguments that there were insufficient grounds to prove that their troops were the ones committing the crimes. They argued even if they were, the acts of violence were justifiable given the nature of the guerrilla warfare.
The development came as RoK Deputy Prime Minister of Economy and Finance Choo Kyung-ho and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Lê Minh Khái are announced to hold the second Việt Nam-RoK deputy prime minister level dialogue on the economy on Friday.
Việt Nam and RoK are enjoying thriving relations, with ties upgraded to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in December 2022, when then President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc visited the East Asian country.
The discussions are expected to be about trade and investment cooperation, energy and infrastructure development, information technology, labour and health care, the foreign ministry spokesperson Hằng said, in response to questions on whether the massacre will be raised during the RoK official’s visit.
“As I understand, the focal ministry in charge of preparing for the dialogue, which is the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Việt Nam, will provide appropriate information to the news agencies and news reporters,” Hằng said.
She noted that economic cooperation is a highlight in Việt Nam-RoK relations, adding that RoK is Việt Nam’s largest foreign investor, the second largest partner in Official Development Aid (ODA) and labour and tourism fields, and the third largest trading partner.
A question was also raised related to the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister’s comment that Russia is preparing for an inter-government agreement that would result in the simplification of visa regimes with Việt Nam, Indonesia, Angola, Philippines, and Syria.
In response, deputy spokesperson Hằng said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Việt Nam and the Vietnamese embassy in Russia had maintained regular exchanges and contact with the Russian counterparts on simplifying immigration procedures for Vietnamese citizens.
“Việt Nam welcomes Russia considering simplifying visa procedures for Vietnamese citizens,” she said, adding that Việt Nam supports measures that encourage citizens of Việt Nam and other countries to increase trade, travel and people-to-people exchanges, therefore further enhancing friendship between Việt Nam and other countries.
Việt Nam, China relations
On China’s foreign policies formulated in the recent ‘two sessions’ meetings of the National People’s Congress of China (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Hằng said Việt Nam always attaches great importance to strengthening and promoting neighbourly friendship and comprehensive cooperation with China.
“I’m hoping that the comprehensive strategic partnership between Việt Nam and China will continue to grow stronger, more effective and sustainable in the interests of the people in both countries for peace and development in the region,” Hằng stressed. — VNS