The unification ministry reacted negatively to the idea of suing North Korea for damages for blowing up a joint inter-Korean liaison office Wednesday, a day after a Seoul court ordered Pyongyang to pay compensation to former South Korean prisoners of war.
The Seoul Central District Court delivered the landmark ruling in favor of the two former POWs in a damages suit they filed against the North and leader Kim Jong-un for the forced labor they endured after they were taken to the communist nation during the 1950-53 Korean War until their escape in the early 2000s.
The court ordered the North and its leader to pay 21 million won ($17,550) to each POW.
On Wednesday, the unification ministry said it respects the court's ruling but reacted negatively when asked if the government has any plans to consider filing a suit to seek compensation for the June 16 demolition of the liaison office building in the North's border city of Kaesong.
"Each court ruling is applicable to that specific case, and it cannot be generalized in other cases. The demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office may have different implications," Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing.
Yoh also said the government is reviewing various effective ways to seek compensation. He did not elaborate on what the effective ways are but added that there are "no North Korean assets in South Korea that the government is currently aware of."
"We respect the court ruling on the damage suit of the prisoners of war. The government will continue to cooperate with the international community and with North Korea to achieve actual progress over the issue of prisoners of war and abductees," he added.
Last month, North Korea sharply ratcheted up tensions by blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office and threatening to take military action in anger over anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets flown from the South. (Yonhap)