Most of the Korean plaintiffs who won lawsuits over alleged wartime forced labor during Japan's colonial rule have been awarded damages by a foundation backed by the South Korean government, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Payments were made to 10 family members of wartime laborers who have agreed to be compensated by the fund under a scheme devised by Seoul to settle the wartime labor issue and help accelerate efforts to improve ties with Japan.

A civic group holds a rally in central Seoul on March 6, 2023, to protest the South Korean government's solution to a wartime labor compensation dispute with Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Of the 15 people who won the lawsuit, the remaining five, including three surviving victims, have refused to accept the payment, seeking an apology and damages from the Japanese government.

A total of eight family members received Friday payment equivalent to the compensation that two Japanese companies were ordered to pay by South Korea's top court in 2018. The other two were awarded the sum last week.

Japan has maintained that all issues stemming from the 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula were settled "completely and finally" under a bilateral agreement signed in 1965.

South Korea's plan for settling the wartime labor row was announced in March in an effort to improve bilateral relations that had significantly deteriorated after the 2018 South Korean Supreme Court ruling.

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South Korea announces solution to wartime labor row with Japan