Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A North Korean state-owned enterprise quietly filed a lawsuit in a South Korean court in 2019, demanding a South Korean trading partner pay $4.74 million in overdue funds, according to local press reports.
North Korea's inter-Korean economic cooperation agency sued an unnamed South Korean firm for an agreement that was finalized in 2010, the same year Seoul imposed economic sanctions, South Korean paper Korea Economic Daily reported Thursday.
According to Channel A, the company signed a contract in February 2010 to purchase 2,600 tons of North Korean iron ore from the North Korean state-owned enterprise.
The South Korean purchaser sent a portion of the payment, about $1.26 million, to an intermediary in the Chinese border city of Dandong, the report said.
The North Korean plaintiff is claiming through a South Korea-based go-between its South Korean partner owes an unpaid balance of $4.74 million. It is the first known North Korean lawsuit against a South Korean entity, according to Channel A.
The South Korean firm has denied the charges. The defendant's lawyer has said the "balance already has been paid." The middleman company in China has also become unreachable, the firm's lawyer claimed.
The inter-Korean contract was signed in 2010, months before Seoul imposed economic sanctions in May of that year after the torpedoing of a South Korean warship. A team of international experts concluded a North Korean torpedo sank the warship, but North Korea denied responsibility.
Lee Kyung-jae, an attorney with South Korean law firm Dongbuka in charge of the plaintiff's case, said Thursday that the first court verdict would be issued in April.
According to Lee, the plaintiff "waited and waited" for the issue to be resolved in good faith. Lee also said because of the coronavirus pandemic it is "difficult" to give further details on the case, Channel A reported.Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the lawsuit requested $5.3 billion in overdue funds, and that zinc was the export.