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Seoul sues Pyongyang for 'bombing of liaison office in Kaesong complex

Seoul sues Pyongyang for 'bombing of liaison office in Kaesong complex

Posted June. 15, 2023 08:04,   

Updated June. 15, 2023 08:04


The South Korean government on Wednesday filed a lawsuit for damages in a South Korean court against North Korea for unilaterally blowing up the joint inter-Korean liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North three years ago. It is the first time Seoul has filed a lawsuit against Pyongyang.

"North Korea's blowing up of the liaison office in a violent way is clearly illegal," the South Korean Unification Ministry said on the day. “It violated inter-Korean agreements including the Panmunjom Declaration. It is an act that fundamentally undermines the foundation of mutual respect and trust between the two Koreas," the ministry added.

In this regard, the Seoul government claimed a total of 44.7 billion won (approximately 35.0 million U.S. dollars) in damages, including 10.25 billion won (8 million dollars) for the liaison office building and 34.45 billion won (approximately 27.0 million dollars) for a nearby general support center. The plaintiff in the lawsuit is the ‘Minister of Justice of the Republic of Korea,’ and the defendant is "Kim Jong Un, the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.’

The government filed the lawsuit because the deadline for the South Korean government to claim damages against North Korea is set to expire on June 16. The Civil Code limits the victim’s right to claim damage to three years from the date the victim becomes aware of the damage.

North Korea will unlikely respond to the lawsuit, but enforcing the ruling will be difficult even if a South Korean court finds North Korea liable. There is no means for the South to use to force the North to comply. However, it is possible that the court could order the Seoul government to pay for the damage with some of the North Korean properties kept in the South. South Korean broadcasters and publishers pay the North a certain amount for using North Korean video works, and millions of dollars in accumulated royalties have been deposited in South Korean courts.

Previously on April 27, 2018, the leaders of the two Koreas agreed in the Panmunjom Declaration to establish a joint liaison office in Kaesong, staffed by officials from the two Koreas. In September of the same year, the liaison office was established within the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Seoul spent over 18 billion won (14 million dollars) to construct the office building. However, the North unilaterally blew up the building on June 16, 2020 in response to North Korean defector groups in the South sending flyers to the North.