Issue Brief: Private Litigation against the North Korean Government: Overview and Policy Implications

August 26, 2021

In this new Issue Brief, NCNK Senior Advisor Daniel Wertz examines the $3.7 billion in default judgements that U.S. courts have awarded to individuals bringing legal claims against the government of North Korea, including by the survivors of the USS Pueblo and by the family of Otto Warmbier.

The Issue Brief reviews how North Korea's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism has allowed litigants to file claims against the country in American courts, and the options that claimants may have in trying to enforce these judgments in light of the absence of significant North Korean assets within the United States. It will also look at how these claims might factor into prospective negotiations to normalize relations between Washington and Pyongyang, given the near impossibility of establishing a normal economic relationship between the U.S. and North Korea if they are not addressed in some way. Finally, the report will review similar claims that have been made in South Korean and Japanese courts, litigation that also holds the potential to impact a prospective normalization of inter-Korean or Japan-DPRK relations.

The Issue Brief is available here.