Go to Contents Go to Navigation

Parliament approves bill on N. Koreans' right to inherit assets in S. Korea

All Headlines 18:05 December 29, 2011

SEOUL, Dec. 29 (Yonhap) -- The National Assembly on Thursday approved a bill that would protect North Korean residents' rights to inherit assets from family members living in South Korea but also strictly limit the transfer of those assets out of the South.

The government-proposed special bill on family relationships and inheritance between residents of the two Koreas passed a full-floor legislative session, the Justice Ministry said.

The move followed an unprecedented case in July involving four North Korean siblings who successfully claimed part of their late South Korean father's multi-million dollar estate. A local court determined during mediation that their South Korean half-brothers and sisters must share the inheritance with their siblings from the North. More North Koreans are expected to follow suit.

"This special law, the first domestic law made to cope with inter-Korean reunification, will serve as a touchstone for unifying the laws of the two Koreas," a ministry official said.

The bill also requires North Korean inheritors to name a local manager for the assets within three months of inheritance and to report any changes in the property to the South Korean government.

The heirs must get approval from the government if they want to take any inherited assets out of the country.

The restriction on the overseas transfer of assets is aimed to ease mounting concern that North Korean authorities could take advantage of the inheritance system, according to the Seoul government.

South Korea is technically still at war with the North since the Korean War ended with an armistice in 1953, not a peace treaty.

In addition, the bill includes a provision recognizing double marriage by North Koreans who defected to the South after the inter-Korean division without first divorcing their spouses in the North. Double marriage is otherwise banned under the South's civil law.

Also approved during the main parliamentary session was a partial revision to the civil law requiring those wanting to adopt a child or to sever family ties with an adopted child to get prior approval or a decision from a local family court.

Currently, adoption or ending adoption is only possible after reporting to a city mayor or the chief of a smaller administrative unit. The system has been under criticism for exposing some adopted children to ill-treatment and sexual assault.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!