Family of framed and executed lawmaker awarded $2.35 million from government

Posted on : 2017-02-03 16:07 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Kim Kyu-nam was among many overseas scholars falsely accused of espionage under Park Chung-hee regime
Kim Kyu-nam
Kim Kyu-nam

A South Korean court has ruled that the government must pay 2.7 billion won (US$2.35 million) to the family of Kim Kyu-nam, a Democratic Republican Party lawmaker who was executed during the Park Chung-hee regime for alleged involvement in a European espionage incident fabricated by the South Korean spy agency.

In a civil suit filed by 23 members of Kim Kyu-nam's family, demanding indemnification for his wrongful conviction and execution, Seoul Central District Court, presided over by Judge Kim Young-hak, ruled on Feb. 2 that the government must pay 2.72 billion won to the plaintiffs.

Along with the East Berlin spy incident, the European espionage incident is one of several fabricated under the guise of maintaining public security during Park's reign. In the 1960s, Park’s regime accused more than 20 South Korean scholars studying in England and other European countries of carrying out spy activities for North Korea because they had visited East Berlin, which was under communist rule at the time. Kim Kyu-nam was indicted, along with Park Noh-soo, who was working at Cambridge University, for activities that benefited the enemy, such as visiting North Korea, in violation of the National Security Law. They were sentenced to death in July 1970. Kim filed an appeal, which was denied, and he was executed in July 1972.

In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission decided to request a retrial, saying that “the Korean Central Intelligence Agency [precursor to today’s National Intelligence Service] took Kim to the police station without a warrant, kept him in custody illegally for six days, and forced a confession out of him through torture and mistreatment, engaging in illegal investigative activity.” Kim and others were reportedly beaten and tortured by a KCIA investigator wearing only underpants. In Dec. 2015, 43 years after his death sentence, the Supreme Court acquitted Kim and others of their charges in a retrial. In March 2016 Kim’s family members filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming compensation for damages and accusing the state of illegal acts.

The court acknowledged the state’s responsibility, saying that “Kim’s family has experienced immense emotional pain, beginning with Kim’s detention, as well as the near-unbearable shock of the death sentence,” adding also that “Kim’s young children also went through the pain of losing a father at a young age due to the illegal acts of government officials.”

By Hyun So-eun, staff reporter

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