Seoul court dismisses defamation lawsuit by North Korea leader's aunt

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (above), whose aunt Ko Yong Suk filed a defamation suit last year against three defectors living in South Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (above), whose aunt Ko Yong Suk filed a defamation suit last year against three defectors living in South Korea.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - A Seoul court said on Thursday (March 24) it had dismissed a defamation suit filed by the US-based aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un against three defectors now living in South Korea.

Ko Yong Suk, who looked after Kim for years when he was at school in Switzerland, filed the suit last year, accusing the three of "spreading false information" about her and her family on TV talk shows. The defectors had all escaped the North and settled in South Korea in the 1990s.

The lawsuit cited claims that Ko siphoned off gambling money from a secret fund of Kim's late father, Kim Jong Il, that her father collaborated during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula and that she had plastic surgery after defecting to the US.

The Seoul Central District Court said it was dismissing the case because Ko's legal team had failed to carry out an earlier order to provide correct addresses for the three accused, so that they could be served with court papers.

The team also failed to use a public notice system, where the names of hard-to-find defendants are displayed on court billboards and papers for a certain period of time.

Ko took asylum in the United States in 1998 with her husband, and the suit was filed on her behalf by a Seoul-based lawyer.

Ko, the younger sister of Kim's mother who died in France in 2004, had been seeking a total of 60 million won (S$70,453) for remarks the defectors made on South Korean TV talk shows between 2013 and 2014.