Inheritance fight pits two KoreasA local court yesterday failed to find a middle ground for four North Korean siblings, surnamed Yoon, who are claiming the right to inherit their defector father’s 10 billion won ($9 million) fortune against their South Korean half-siblings and stepmother.
Negotiations between the two sides broke down after 30 minutes, when they failed to narrow differences. The trial will resume on Feb. 18.
The four North Korean siblings have demanded that their four South Korean half-siblings and stepmother give them the entire 10 billion won because they say their father had transferred valuable assets such as real estate to the ones in the South.
The South Korean side rejected the demand.
According to the Seoul Central District Court, the father was married in Sunchon, North Korea, in 1933 and had four children.
He left three children and his wife behind during the Korean War, fleeing to the South with his eldest daughter, who is now 76.
Yoon remarried a South Korean woman in 1959 and had four more children. Yoon died in 1987, leaving behind the 10 billion won.
After Yoon died, the eldest daughter found her siblings in the North with the help of missionaries who traveled to North Korea.
The North Korean family sought an injunction, which the court approved in December 2008, to prevent their South Korean relatives from selling the father’s real estate after missionaries told them that their father, who had been a physician, had amassed the fortune after defecting.
In February 2009, the North Korean siblings filed an inheritance claim against their South Korean half-siblings and stepmother.
In November 2010, the Seoul Family Court ruled in favor of the North Korean children, who had filed a paternity suit that proved the man had fathered them. It was the first time North Koreans has won a paternity suit in a South Korean court.
The daughter who had defected with her father and represents the inheritance rights of the North Korea siblings, demanded a South Korean half-brother, who is representing the relatives in the South, to give them the 10 billion won because they say the South Korean siblings received other assets.
But a South Korean half-brother claimed their father already gave an inheritance to the four North Korean siblings by transferring ownership of 660-square-meter (7,104 square feet) piece of land to an elder sister in the North 30 years ago. That sister countered “that’s not enough.”
By Koo Hui-lyung [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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