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N. Korean firm loses suit against S. Korean companies in disputes over export payment

Kim Han-shin (C), the head of a research institute for economic cooperation between the two Koreas, answers reporters questions as a co-plaintiff of a lawsuit filed by a North Korean firm against South Korean companies over allegedly unpaid supply payments outside of the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Kim Han-shin (C), the head of a research institute for economic cooperation between the two Koreas, answers reporters questions as a co-plaintiff of a lawsuit filed by a North Korean firm against South Korean companies over allegedly unpaid supply payments outside of the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
A North Korean firm on Tuesday lost a lawsuit claiming millions of dollars for metal it supplied to South Korean companies in 2010, in a rare legal battle between businesses from the two Koreas.

In a ruling against the North Korean National Economic Cooperation Federation, its member company and their South Korean deputy, the Seoul Central District Court said that four South Korean firms need not pay the plaintiffs about 5.3 billion won ($4.7 million) for the zinc they imported from North Korea over a decade ago.

This marks the first known case of a North Korean company filing a suit with a South Korean court.

The North Korean firm claimed it did not receive the whole payment due to sanctions on money transfers to the North imposed by the then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on May 24, 2010, following Pyongyang's torpedo attacks two months earlier on the South Korean warship, Cheonan, near the Northern Limit Line in Yellow Sea. Forty-six South Korean sailors died in the attack near the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas.

The defendants refuted the claim, saying they made the complete payment to the Chinese company that brokered the deal. (Yonhap)

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