The Korea Herald


Court confirms N.K. residents’ rights as children of S. Korean

By Korea Herald

Published : July 31, 2013 - 19:13

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The South Korean Supreme Court set a new precedent Wednesday in confirming a group of North Koreans’ legal rights as the children of a deceased South Korean.

The four North Koreans were seeking legal recognition as children of their father, a deceased South Korean identified by the surname Yoon.

In earlier rulings, the courts had recognized the North Koreans’ claims that they were Yoon’s children based on DNA analysis using fingernail and hair samples.

The prosecution, however, argued that as North Korean authorities were involved in locating the Yoons and since the family gave the power of attorney to an American missionary identified as Seo, the case should be dismissed.

The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the prosecution’s argument.

“Although the plaintiffs may have been aided by officials of North Korea’s State Security Ministry, there is no evidence that verifying family relations would be disadvantageous to them,” the court said.

“It cannot be concluded that the separated family members gaining legal recognition of parent-offspring relations is against their (plaintiffs) will.”

The plaintiffs’ father operated a hospital in the North before the Korean War, at the outbreak of which he and his eldest daughter came to South Korea where he remarried.

With his new wife, identified by the surname Kwon, he had four children before his death in 1987. With his first wife, who died in North Korea in 1997, Yoon had two sons and four daughters.

Yoon’s eldest daughter then contacted her family in North Korea through Seo, who was aided by connections in the State Security Ministry.

The North Koreans then gave Seo the power of attorney to act in their stead in the lawsuit filed in 2009 seeking legal recognition as the deceased’s children.

The North Koreans also filed a suit to recover their inheritance, claiming that their father had left assets of nearly 10 billion won ($8.9 million) in value to his South Korean wife and children.

In the inheritance recovery suit, the Seoul Central District Court ruled that the plaintiffs had claim to parts of the real estate and other assets inherited by Kwon and her children in 2011.

By Choi He-suk (