SEOUL, Sept. 8 (Korea Bizwire) – A Seoul court ordered the government Friday to compensate a victim of forced labor at a salt farm for its failure to protect him when he escaped and requested police help.
The Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of the intellectually disabled man who was forced to toil on a remote island in Shinan, 400 km south of Seoul, and suffered physical abuse by the owner of the facility.
In 2014, the man — identified only by his last name Park — fled the salt field and went to a police station for help. But instead of protecting him, an officer contacted the employer and made him go back to his workplace.
The court said the state should be held accountable for his suffering and pay some 37 million won (US$32,800) in compensation for his psychological trauma.
“Because of the police officer’s behavior, Park had to return to the salt field, and he must have felt extremely confused and frustrated,” the court said.
But the court did not acknowledge state responsibility for seven other co-defendants in the suit filed in 2015, citing a lack of evidence.
The slavelike labor forced on mentally disabled and homeless people at salt farms came to light in 2014. A series of similar incidents were exposed later by the media and government inspections.