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Officials Want Land Return Case Halt

Posted February. 07, 2006 04:10,   


Prosecutors said Monday that they submitted an application late last month asking a court to suspend four pending cases in which descendants of pro-Japanese Koreans are seeking to reclaim formerly-owned land.

The action was taken under the Special Law on Government-Vested Properties of Pro-Japanese, which took effect late last year. Under the law, the land in question must be investigated by the Investigation Commission on Pro-Japanese Properties if asked to do so by a court or agency.

The commission will confirm whether the land is the property of the descendants of pro-Japanese and decide whether to return it or not.

The law allows for the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutors’ Office to ask the court to suspend trials on cases that involve “pro-Japanese” properties. According to the law, even land for which ownership rights have been confirmed after the nation’s defeat in court are subject to legal action if they are confirmed to belong to a descendant of a pro-Japanese Korean.

For cases in which the land in question was believed to belong to someone who supported the Japanese, the court has ruled only on the ownership rights of the land, regardless of whether or not the owner was pro-Japanese or not.

The special law defines pro-Japanese property to include property obtained in return for cooperation with Japanese rule from the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 to the date of national liberation in 1945, or property that was inherited from that era. Pro-Japanese-owned land that was knowingly received as a donation is also included.

Ownership rights for pro-Japanese lands unknowingly bought after being legitimately paid for will be respected, however.

The Ministry of Justice and prosecutors say nine out of 26 pro-Japanese property cases raised by descendants of pro-Japanese figures Lee Wan-yong, Song Byung-joon, Lee Jae-geuk, Lee Geun-ho, Yoon Duk-young, Min Young-hui, and Na Ki-jung are currently being reviewed, while the other 17 have already been decided.

Out of the 17, the nation won five, lost three, and four other cases were withdrawn by the plaintiffs.

Ji-Seong Jeon verso@donga.com