July 7 (UPI) -- A South Korean court has ruled North Korean leader Kim Jong Un must compensate former South Korean prisoners of war who were made to work as forced laborers while in captivity.
Judge Kim Young-ah of the Seoul Central District Court said Tuesday two South Korean victims must receive reparations of about $17,570 each from the regime in Pyongyang, local news service Seoul Pyongyang News reported.
The two plaintiffs had filed a lawsuit against the North Korean government in October 2016 after fleeing the regime. On Tuesday they were identified by their surnames, Noh and Han.
During a press conference outside the courthouse on Tuesday, the two veterans of the 1950-53 Korean War said they were held captive in the North even after the signing of the 1953 Armistice and the two sides agreed to exchange prisoners.
The plaintiffs' attorneys said they have plans to collect the payments from the South-North Economic and Cultural Cooperation, a private foundation established by Im Jong-seok, a South Korean politician who served as presidential secretary to President Moon Jae-in.
The foundation has "currently deposited about $1.67 million as a guarantee" with South Korean courts, the attorneys said.
The funds were set aside to pay the North copyright fees for the use of North Korea-produced footage, but fund transfers to the North were blocked after a shooting incident in 2008 at Mount Kumgang.
"We plan to pay to Han and other plaintiffs, after acquiring a right of claim to the deposit and an order of collection," the attorneys said.
Han said Tuesday he is happy with the court's decision, Newsis reported.
"The results have been good today thanks to the cooperation of the lawyers," Han said.
"It's too bad political circles and society remain uninterested in the issue of military prisoners of war."
Han has said he was taken prisoner during the Korean War, and was held captive until he fled between 2000 and 2001. He originally sued North Korea founder Kim Il Sung for nearly $430,000, and his son Kim Jong Il for more than $75,000, according to Newsis.