For the first time ever here in Korea, a public organization the National Health Insurance Service, is suing cigarette companies to recover medical costs incurred due to tobacco-related illnesses.
Less than a week ago, seven individuals and their families lost a 15-year-long case against Korea's biggest cigarette manufacturer KT&G.
This time, the plaintiff is the National Health Insurance Service, which filed a 52-million-U.S. dollar complaint Monday against KT&G, as well as Philip Morris and British American Tobacco.
The health agency says nearly four percent of its total health insurance payouts have gone toward tobacco-related treatments since 2011.
"As you all are well aware, smoking cigarettes affects the nation’s people, and especially women and adolescents. We are going to proceed with the legal battle for the future of our nation, and to guarantee that health insurance costs are maintained."
The health insurance service will focus on proving the cause-and-effect relationship between cancer and smoking, along with any breaches of the law that the tobacco companies may have committed.
It isn't much different from the case presented by the individuals who lost their case last week.
"The National Health Insurance Service says due to its big database and its thorough investigation, it has a better chance than individuals of winning in this case."
"KT&G, the defendant in the individuals' case, refused to reveal a lot of its data. We understand that the lack of information provided caused the plaintiffs to lose."
The insurance service emphasized that the entire trial won't just be taking place behind closed doors in court, but that every bit of the process will be openly shared with the public.
Kwon So-a, Arirang News.