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Yongsan Tenants Suing Defector Over Separate Settlement

Posted January. 05, 2010 09:05,   


Tenants from Seoul’s Yongsan district, where six people were killed in a protest gone wrong Jan. 20 last year, are suing a tenant who agreed to an individual settlement with the district’s redevelopment association.

Certain tenants of the fourth redevelopment district of Yongsan are known to have given written pledges agreeing to pay a penalty of 20 million won (17,346 U.S. dollars) for negotiating a separate damage settlement with the association.

The Democratic Labor Party’s Committee of Tenants of the Fourth Yongsan District yesterday filed a request with a court to force Lim Yeong-han, who bolted from the committee, to pay the penalty amount to the committee.

The request said 28 committee members including Lim pledged May 25 last year not to separately negotiate with the association or bolt from the committee, setting the penalty at 20 million won. The members had the pledges notarized by a law firm.

The committee asked members for the pledges to prevent them from separately negotiating with the association and maximizing the committee’s bargaining power. They also signed a contract with the law firm J&P, which is in charge of the lawsuit against the association.

Under the contract, each member must pay five million won (4,337 dollars) in contingent fees to the law firm if it persuades the association to pay damages to the tenants larger than expected or set up temporary stores for expelled tenants.

Lim announced his bolt from the committee Nov. 28 after negotiating his own settlement with the association, prompting the committee to sue him. A court ordered him to pay the penalty amount after receiving the request from the committee.

Lim appealed the order, however, so a civil suit will decide whether he must pay the penalty to the committee. He had run an underground bar in the building where the fire broke out.

“I had no choice but to get compensation since my wife’s health has worsened and the negotiation process has been prolonged. Since I had no other options, [the committee’s] argument is ridiculous,” he said.

The redevelopment association said another committee member plans to get an individually negotiated settlement. “Five of the remaining 26 members belong to the Federation of Evictees and must accept the settlement agreement reached Dec. 30. For the other 21 members, their lawsuit against vacating and handing over their stores to the association is in the final stage,” an association source said.

After submitting the letter to the court, the committee explained why it included in its name Democratic Labor Party.

“The name of the committee is the Democratic Labor Party’s Committee of Tenants of the Fourth Yongsan District. The party’s name has been included in our committee’s name because it has done a lot to protect evictees’ rights, but our committee has nothing to do with the party,” the committee said.