Asia&Pacific

Kim Jong-un faces legal action over Japanese defectors

15:57, 15 October 2021
Kim Jong-un faces legal action over Japanese defectors Photo: Kremlin Pool/Russian Look/Global Look Press

The lawsuit concerns Japanese residents who were promised a heaven on Earth in North Korea in 1959-1984 and were deceived into freedom restriction and abuse.


Five ethnic Koreans have filed a lawsuit demanding that current North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un pay compensation for deceiving thousands of Koreans who lived in Japan into moving to North Korea in 1959-1984 where they became nearly slaves.

The plaintiff requested 100 mln yen ($880,000) from North Korea’s government, specifying, however, that they do not expect to be paid but want to draw attention to the relationship between Japan and the DPRK who have not yet established diplomatic ties.

"We expect that North Korea will neither accept the decision nor pay the damages. Still, we hope that the Japanese government will be able to negotiate with North Korea,” one of the defectors said.

According to the suit’s text, around 90,000 ethnic Koreans moved from Japan to North Korea in the second half of the 20th century, many with spouses, as a part of returning to the “Fatherland” program coordinated by both countries.

North Korea sought to recover after the Second World War and the Korean War and decided to bring back thousands of native Koreans who left the peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and immigrated to Japan. The island’s government in its turn considered those Koreans to be black sheep and was eager to displace them. Many of those sent back were forced to move against their will.

North Korean propaganda assured the returning citizens that they will be provided with free healthcare, education, jobs, and dwelling, while in reality they were used as cheap manual labor in farms, mines, or plants. They claim that their rights were violated adding that they faced severe discrimination. The plaintiffs also say that they were forbidden to see and visit their relatives.

Japan’s branch of the Human Rights Watch intends to demand that the recently appointed Prime Minister Fumio Kishida negotiate with Kim Jong-un to allow thousands of the program’s victims, who did not manage to flee North Korea, to come back to Japan.