Lawfare NGO Wins Historic Ruling against N. Korea

Representing the family of a murdered Korean priest, Israel Law Center wins $330M compensation in precedent-setting lawsuit.

Gil Ronen,

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Shurat HaDin

The Israel Law Center / Shurat Hadin legal NGO, which specializes in anti-terror legal warfare, has won a “historic” judgment in the amount of $330 million in a lawsuit filed against North Korea, on behalf of the family of a Korean priest who was murdered.

A US court found that Rev. Kim Dong-Shik was abducted and tortured to death by Pyongyang's State Security Department.

The Israel Law Center, a human rights organization located in Tel Aviv, a pioneer in the use of legal actions against terrorist organizations and regimes of terror, won the legal victory on behalf of the family of Rev. Kim, a Christian missionary and social activist who was kidnapped in China by North Korean agents in January 2000.

The Columbia District Court awarded the family $330 million from the government of North Korea. The amount includes $15 million to be paid to Kim's son, a similar amount to his brother, plus $300 million in punitive damages.

Rev. Kim was tortured to death in a prison camp in North Korea by agents of the State Security Department, the intelligence service of North Korea. The suit was filed in 2009 against North Korea and its intelligence service by the family of Pastor Kim. The Israel Law Center represents the son of Rev. Kim and his brother, both of whom are American citizens.

Kim was a central activist in the “Underground Railroad” which operated in North Korea to help those who sought to escape the oppressive regime. The civil lawsuit alleged that North Korea brutally tortured Kim and then then starved him to death in a camp for political prisoners. Pyongyang has never admitted involvement in the abduction of Rev. Kim and all the information relating to his death was provided by the family.

The court's decision set a precedent in American law, according to which, when a foreign government abducts a private citizen without leaving a trace regarding his whereabouts and condition, that government is saddled with the burden of proof regarding whether or not he has been murdered.

Darshan-Leitner, chairman of the Israel Law Center, said of the decision: "This is an unprecedented case that comes at a critical time, as the US seeks to impose sanctions against Kim Jong-Un. There was no reason to remove the government of North Korea from the State Department watchlist of countries that violate human rights, and we call upon the State Department ot once again put Pyongyang on the list."