On July 7, former South Korean soldier Oh Dong-ju won a lawsuit in Daejeon District Court in a case against the South Korean Army Chief of Staff, which had denied that the army used Agent Orange in the region where Oh was stationed in 1967. The court ruling sided against the South Korean Army’s claim, which was consistent with the U.S. Military Advisory Group’s Vegetation Control Plan- that Agent Orange was used “only in trial application in U.S. 2nd Infantry Division and ROK Army 21st Infantry Division regions between Oct. 9 and 19, 1967.”

Oh, however, was working in the 3rd Infantry Division region from November to December of 1967 and currently suffers from symptoms related to Agent Orange exposure. The evidence presented by Oh led the court to conclude that South Korean soldiers of other units stationed along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) could indeed be suffering complications from their exposure to Agent Orange, which they appear to have handled to clear vegetation in the area.

Currently, South Korea’s Agent Orange Act allows veterans who served in Vietnam to register themselves as victims of Vietnam-related Agent Orange exposure as soon as they detect symptoms. However, under the same act, those who suffer from symptoms linked to Agent Orange exposure in Korea are unable to register unless they served their duties in the areas officially recognized to have used Agent Orange between the years of 1967 and 1972.

Former soldiers who worked at the DMZ and suffer from complications of Agent Orange exposure like Oh Dong-ju seek to receive proper treatment and support from the government. Immediately following the Dajeon District Court’s ruling last month, the South Korean Army began a process for appealing the court’s decision.

 

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