WASHINGTON, April 19 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. court has ordered North Korea to pay US$330 million in compensation to the family of a late Korean-American pastor abducted by the North in 2000 while trying to help North Korean defectors in China.
The Washington D.C. District Court delivered the verdict earlier this month, bringing the total amount of damages North Korea has to pay as results of a series of lawsuits in the U.S. so far to about $777 million, according to diplomatic sources.
Rev. Kim Jong-shik was taken by a North Korean kidnapping squad in 2000 from Yanbian in northeastern China, apparently due to his support for North Korean defectors in China. Kim is believed to have died the following year.
Kim's family in the U.S. filed the lawsuit in 2009.
"This is an important human rights decision that will be utilized in all political abduction cases going forward," said the Israel Law Center, known as Shurat HaDin, in a statement. The Israeli civic group filed the suit on behalf of Kim's family.
Few expect North Korea to comply with the verdict and pay the damages, but Shurat HaDin is seeking to seize North Korean assets the U.S. government has frozen as part of a series of financial sanctions over Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction development and other bad behavior.
There has been a series of similar verdicts that found the North liable for damages in the U.S.
In 2010, Pyongyang was ordered to pay US$370 million in compensation to families of victims for helping the Japanese Red Army and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine carry out the 1972 Lod Airport massacre in Israel.
But it has not been known whether such victims were awarded the compensation.
Diplomatic sources say such verdicts are meaningful in that courts clearly determined North Korea's responsibility in terrorism and other bad behavior, but it is legally unclear how frozen North Korean assets can be used to pay such damages.