Thirty years after Korea sent troops to Vietnam, a court here has ruled that the U.S. companies that made the defoliant Agent Orange must compensate victims suffering from widely documented aftereffects of exposure to the toxic chemical, which was indiscriminately sprayed on the Southeast Asian country's forests during the war in the 1960s and 70s.
The Seoul High Court on Thursday found for some 20,615 former soldiers and surviving family members in a class action suit against the U.S. chemicals giants Dow Chemical and Monsanto. It awarded veterans and the families of deceased victims W6-46 million (US$6,000-46,000) depending on the degree and length of their suffering. The total award was W63.076 billion.
The court said it had jurisdiction over assets held by the two multinationals in Korea and ruled the victims are entitled to their share of them. It ruled the U.S. defendants "produced defoliants that contained dioxin in excess of the permitted standard" and were therefore liable for compensation.