South Korean lawsuit holds Seoul, Beijing liable for air pollution

SEOUL, Oct. 12 (UPI) — A group of South Korean citizens have filed a lawsuit against Seoul and the Chinese government over worsening air pollution.

The Seoul Central Court held the first trial Friday of the class-action lawsuit filed by 91 South Koreans, including civic activists and medical and environmental experts, Yonhap News reported.

The trial began only with South Korean plaintiffs and their legal representatives attending. Chinese representatives were absent.

The court said it has sent court documents related to the suit to Beijing, but didn’t receive a reply.

South Korean plaintiffs said the suit legally asks whether the South Korean and Chinese governments made necessary efforts to resolve problems with a worsening level of micro dust in the air.

The plaintiffs point out there has been a lack of measures to reduce the level of micro dust, compared to other pollutants. They are requesting compensation for emotional distress and expenses for air purifiers and masks.

Air pollution has been a pressing environmental concern in South Korea recently, with fine dust particles carried by the wind from Chinese industrial cities — and pollution from thermoelectric power plants on the western coast of the Korean peninsula.

South Korea had 57 days with “bad” levels of fine dust particles, 35 micrograms per cubic meter last year, based on the air pollution level by the World Health Organization.

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