Inheritance fight pits two Koreas

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Inheritance fight pits two Koreas

A 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 []

Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

북측 4남매 “유산 100억 다 달라” vs 남측 4남매 “30년 전 떼 줬는데 … ”
남북 이복형제 유산 소송 … 첫 조정 30분 만에 결렬

100억원대 유산을 놓고 다투던 남한과 북한의 이복 형제자매들이 결국 합의에 실패했다. 유산 분배를 법원 판단에 맡길 수밖에 없게 됐다.

8일 서울중앙지법 민사17부(부장 황윤구)는 윤모(68)씨 등 북한 거주 형제자매 4명이 “1987년 숨진 아버지의 유산 100억원을 분배해 달라”며 남한의 새어머니(77)와 이복 형제자매들을 상대로 낸 소송에 대해 조정 합의를 시도했다. 그러나 조정은 30분여 만에 결렬됐다. 북한 측은 “남측 형제들은 아버지가 돌아가시기 전에 양도받은 재산이 많으니 상속받은 유산을 모두 북한 형제 몫으로 달라”고 주장했다. 남한 측은 “이미 30년 전 북한 형제자매 몫 재산을 주지 않았느냐”며 반발했다. 재판부는 더 이상 조정을 시도하지 않고 다음 달 18일 재판을 다시 열기로 했다.

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