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Can South Korea escape domestic politics to end wartime labor row?

Former newspaper editor argues for 'best possible' deal with Japan

South Korean protesters at an anti-Japan rally. Yoon Suk Yeol wants to move past domestic politics to improve ties with Japan.    © Reuters

SEOUL -- As South Korea seeks to resolve the wartime labor dispute with Japan, a former newspaper editor is playing a key role in trying to convince plaintiffs suing Japanese companies to accept payment from a government-backed foundation.

Shim Kyu-sun heads the foundation charged with compensating former wartime laborers forced to work for Japanese companies, and their families, under a government proposal. The two companies ordered by the South Korean Supreme Court in 2018 to pay reparations -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel -- have refused to do so, citing a 1965 bilateral agreement. This has set the stage for a drawn-out diplomatic dispute. 

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