Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A South Korean man who was once a prisoner of war taken to North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War says he is suing Kim Jong Un for the personal suffering he endured as a POW for five decades.
The former South Korean POW with the surname Han, 85, said Tuesday he is seeking justice for North Korean state crimes and that other South Korean soldiers are still being held captive illegally, Newsis reported.
Han said he was captured in 1951. Both sides were required to return all POWs after the signing of a cease-fire agreement, but North Korea prevented him from repatriating to the South, according to the report.
Han said he was forced to work in North Korean coal mines before making his escape to the South in 2001.
Han has stayed out of the public spotlight since his return, but in October 2016, he and other ex-POWs in the South filed a lawsuit against the North Korean leader, demanding the regime pay each plaintiff about $18,000 for damages.
The compensation was calculated based on years victims worked as forced laborers, beginning in September 1953, and the number of years they were held captive after POWs were exchanged on both sides.
Han may have worked in mines and under harsh conditions for 33 months starting in 1953. For those months worked, Han is demanding $9,424, and another $8,567 for his time in captivity.
Mulmangcho, a South Korean NGO serving North Korean refugees, said the lawsuit is the first of its kind, filed by South Korean POWs that target the North Korean regime, Yonhap reported Tuesday.
Han told reporters there are "tens of thousands" of South Korean POWs still being held in North Korea.
The former POW also said he has received remuneration from Seoul for his "50 years of suffering," and that the lawsuit is not about money.
Seoul needs to do more to repatriate South Korean POWs, Han said.