SEOUL, May 24 (Korea Bizwire) – Dozens of South Koreans on Wednesday sued the governments of Seoul and Beijing, seeking compensation over mental distress they suffered due to fine dust, the plaintiffs said.
Ten plaintiffs, including Choi Yul, president of the Korea Green Foundation, and attorney Ahn Kyung-jae, filed the case with the Seoul Central District Court, seeking 3 million won (US$2,600) in compensation each. They said 78 others took part in the suit with the ten as their representatives.
Choi and Ahn filed a similar case earlier in April with five other participants, but said they are filing again as more people said they want to take part in the legal action.
South Korea has been grappling with worsening air quality every year, as clouds of fine dust particles, believed to mainly come from the western deserts of China and domestic smog, cover the sky with a yellow haze. The particulates are known to cause various respiratory problems while also affecting the body’s immune system.
“The fine dust level in South Korea in March and April 2017 surpassed the acceptable level,” the plaintiffs said in the petition. “Many people are exposed to serious danger due to various kinds of respiratory diseases and deterioration of immunity.”
“As a member of the international community, China has the obligation to control pollutants at an acceptable level,” they said, claiming the neighboring country neglected such duty.
South Korea, meanwhile, failed to clarify the exact cause of the fine dust, they said.
“The purpose of this suit is to find out the cause of fine dust and to set a milestone for the two countries to lead Asia in the new era based on mutual efforts,” they said in the petition.