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Unification minister confident of winning damages suit against N. Korea

By Yonhap

Published : June 16, 2023 - 11:30

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Unification Minister Kwon Young-se (Herald DB) Unification Minister Kwon Young-se (Herald DB)

South Korea's unification minister voiced confidence Friday in winning a damages suit the government has filed against Pyongyang over its 2020 demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in North Korea's border city of Kaesong.

The remarks by Kwon Young-se, who is in charge of Seoul's inter-Korean affairs, came two days after the government lodged a 44.7 billion-won ($35 million) damages suit against North Korea for blowing up the liaison office on June 16, 2020.

It marked the first time that the South Korean government has sued North Korea.

"There is no difficulty whatsoever, except for specifying the amount in detail," Kwon said in a CBS radio interview, adding that he believes the chances of winning the damages suit filed with a Seoul court is "100 percent."

The minister acknowledged that there are no realistic means to force the North to compensate but emphasized that winning the case would be "very meaningful" as it shows that Seoul will not tolerate Pyongyang's wrongdoings.

The government of Yoon Suk Yeol, which came into power in May last year, has pledged to take a tough stance against the North's provocative acts in comparison to the former Moon Jae-in administration that prioritized cross-border reconciliation.

Against such a backdrop, Kwon slammed the former liberal government and the head of the main opposition party over allegations of money transactions involving the North, saying that should the claims turn out to be true, such "submissive" and "senseless" efforts to engage the North are "neither desirable nor sustainable."

The unification ministry has vowed to take legal action against the North's infringement on the property rights of South Koreans even if it takes time.

Such cases include Pyongyang's unauthorized use of South Korean-owned assets at a now-shuttered joint industrial complex in Kaesong and its demolition of South Korean-built facilities at the Mount Kumgang resort.

The North has yet to respond to the damages suit.

On Thursday, it fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea in apparent protest over a recent series of massive South Korea-US live-fire drills that ended this week. (Yonhap)