(LEAD) Civic groups condemn S. Korea's proposal to end forced labor dispute with Japan
(ATTN: UPDATES with forced labor victim's remarks in last 4 paras; ADDS photo)
SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean civic groups supporting the victims of Japan's wartime forced labor condemned the Seoul government's plan Monday to compensate them through a public foundation, saying they cannot accept a third-party compensation method.
As Foreign Minister Park Jin announced the plan to resolve the long-running forced labor dispute with Japan, civic activists gathered outside the ministry's building in central Seoul to demand the proposal be withdrawn.
The activists from a coalition of 611 civic and labor organizations, including the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan and the Center for Historical Truth and Justice, said they cannot accept any solution to the forced labor dispute without an apology and direct compensation from the concerned Japanese companies.
"The Yoon Suk Yeol government trampled on the people's legally established rights and pushed through the pro-Japanese negotiations to exonerate Japanese companies," Park Seok-un, a progressive activist, said during the rally.
"It is lamentable that President Yoon and Minister Park have carried out their duties in violation of the Supreme Court's ruling," said Park, referring to the top court's compensation order for two Japanese firms accused of mobilizing Korean laborers during World War II.
Choi Dae-geun, a KCTU official, also attacked the Yoon government, saying the people will never tolerate any profit gained by selling the nation and workers.
Some progressive activists likened Monday's proposal to the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910, while others called it an obvious historical regression.
The minor Jinbo (Progressive) Party also held a rally in front of the foreign ministry building to denounce the Seoul government's proposal as the "worst humiliating diplomacy."
Yoon Hee-sook, leader of the Jinbo Party, said that the uncompromising principle in the forced labor issue is the recognition of crimes, apology and compensation by Japanese companies and the punishment of those responsible.
The coalition of civic groups plans to hold a candlelight vigil at Seoul Plaza in downtown Seoul at 7:30 p.m. to condemn the contentious government proposal.
Yang Geum-deok, a 94-year-old victim of forced labor under Japanese colonial rule, also joined the criticism of the Seoul government's proposal, saying she will not accept any compensation given like "money to beggars."
Yang made the angry remarks in the southwestern city of Gwangju after watching a live broadcast on the foreign minister's news conference.
"There are people who have done wrong and have to apologize. I don't think third-party compensation should be the solution. It can't be seen as an apology," she said.
"I won't die of hunger even if I don't get paid. I won't accept any compensation given like money to beggars."
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