South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) seems to be rethinking its proposed tobacco-company lawsuit.
According to a story in the Korea Times, the NHIS said on Jan. 16 that it would decide the details of its compensation suit against KT&G and other tobacco manufacturers at a board meeting on Jan. 24.
And in a story filed after the board meeting, the Times said the NHIS had decided to file a damages suit against KT&G and other tobacco companies seeking up to WON333 billion.
The decision to go ahead with the claim was made despite the fact that the Ministry of Health and Welfare opposed the suit.
Yesterday, a story in The Korea Economic Daily said the NHIS was poised to launch its suit, but it mentioned only KT&G, not other tobacco companies, and the amount of compensation to be claimed was still to be determined—somewhere between WON53.7 billion and WON230.2 billion.
There even seemed to be some doubt about whether the suit would go ahead, at least anytime soon.
Ahn Sun-young, legal counsel at NHIS, said the lawsuit would be launched within the next month at the latest. However, he added that the suit might be delayed because the government was not enthusiastic about its prospects.
And recently the Ministry of Strategy and Finance expressed doubts about the litigation. “Although fully in agreement with the principle, the National Health Insurance Service will have a hard time to prove criminal intent on the part of the tobacco company,” the ministry was quoted as saying.