Wednesday, December 24, 2014

DC Court of Appeals Grants Default Judgment Against North Korea In Torture Death of Christian Missionary

In Kim v. Democratic People's Republic of Korea, (DC Cir., Dec. 23, 2014), the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit awarded a default judgment against North Korea to the family of Reverend Dong Shik Kim who allegedly was abducted from China by North Korean agents, taken to a North Korean labor colony, tortured and then killed. Kim, a Christian missionary, was allegedly targeted for providing humanitarian aid to North Korean defectors and refugees who fled to China seeking asylum, and for his proselytizing defectors.  According to a 2008 Washington Post article:
Kim, whose wife and two children are U.S. citizens, had raised the ire of the North Korean government by helping its citizens flee the repressive regime and by attempting to convert North Korean athletes who attended the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
The suit against North Korea was based on the "terrorism exception" to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, allowing suits based on allegations of torture. The appeals court found that plaintiffs had produced sufficiently satisfactory evidence of torture to satisfy the requirements for entering a default judgment. The court concluded:
If the DPRK is unhappy with that outcome and has evidence that it has not tortured and killed Reverend Kim, it, like any defendant in default, may ask the district court to vacate that judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b).
McClatchy News reports on the decision.