Former South Korean POWs sue Kim Jong Un for rights violations

By Elizabeth Shim
Former South Korean POWs sue Kim Jong Un for rights violations
A Chinese man looks at photos of North Korea's leaders posted outside the North Korean embassy in Beijing. Two former South Korean POWs are suing the Kim Jong Un regime, a month after Seoul passed its first North Korea human rights act. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Former South Korean prisoners of war who worked as forced laborers during their period of captivity are suing Kim Jong Un.

The lawsuit, filed in Seoul Central District Court on Friday, seeks about $150,000 in damages per plaintiff for rights violations, South Korean news service FN News reported.


The lawsuit is the first of its kind to ask the North Korean regime to bear responsibility for past wrongs.

The two plaintiffs, who are both over 80 years old, were identified by their surnames Han and Noh.

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The two men fought in the 1950-53 Korean War but were captured by North Korean forces.

North Korea did not repatriate the soldiers after 1953, when an armistice agreement was signed, and a program of repatriation took place between August and December.

Operation Big Switch returned nearly 8,000 South Korean POWs, as well as nearly 3,600 Americans, but Han and Noh remained prisoners.

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The lawsuit states the South Korean soldiers were instead sentenced to labor camps, where they were forced to endure "physical and mental suffering" between September 1953 and June 1956, according to the report.


The compensation would cover 33 months of forced labor per plaintiff.

The two men were released and allowed to join North Korean society, but the report did not state when they defected to South Korea.

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Kim Hyun, a South Korean attorney with the Mulmangcho Foundation, an organization working to repatriate South Korean POWs, said North Korea violated clauses in the International Labor Organization's Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor, adopted in 1930.

North Korea's actions also violate an ordinance that was approved by the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, Kim said.

An online petition has been launched to request the case be forwarded to an international criminal tribunal, according to FN News.

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