A South Korean court is expected to decide soon whether to order the sale of assets belonging to Japan's Nippon Steel to compensate four Korean victims of forced labor.
This Tuesday will mark 60 days since public notice of the assets' pending seizure was issued by the Pohang Branch of the Daegu District Court, and with no response from Nippon Steel or Japan's foreign ministry, the court considers notice to have been delivered.
"This comes after South Korea’s Supreme Court in 2018 ruled in favor of the victims of forced labor under Japanese colonial rule, and ordered Nippon Steel to pay them around 84-thousand U.S. dollars each.”
Because the defendants did not respond, the plaintiffs went on to request and win approval for the asset seizure and liquidation.
As for the assets in question, Nippon Steel and the Korean steelmaker POSCO have a joint venture called PNR.
Nippon's unlisted stocks in PNR are worth around 800,000 U.S. dollars.
Time is almost up, but PNR has not been cooperating.
It still has 7 days from Tuesday to appeal, but after that, the seizure will be confirmed.
The actual process of selling the shares is expected to take some time.
At the time of the original ruling in 2018, Japan retaliated by restricting the export to South Korea of several key industrial materials.
If the seizure goes through, high-ranking Japanese officials, including the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, have warned of "serious consequences."
They claim that the issue of forced labor was already settled by the treaty to normalize relations signed in 1965.
But Korea has a different view.
"The principle is that individual rights are not abrogated by diplomatic actions. The individual right to make claims does not disappear because of a treaty between two countries."
South Korea's foreign ministry says it's prepared for any retaliation that may come, and that while a diplomatic solution is still possible, the administration will respect the decision of the country's judicial branch.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.