That partial success has inspired some people outside the United States to sue North Korea in local courts. One is Eiko Kawasaki, 79, an ethnic Korean woman born in Japan, who moved to North Korea in 1960 and eventually married a North Korean man. She did not return to Japan until she defected in 2003 after the death of her husband, leaving her children behind.
Ms. Kawasaki had traveled to the North as part of a resettlement program that was run by Pyongyang and facilitated by Japan, which had colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. She worked for years in a North Korean factory and suffered from discrimination and a lack of food, she said.
In 2018, a few months after the Warmbiers won their case in the United States, Ms. Kawasaki and four other defectors sued Kim Jong-un, the North’s leader, in a Tokyo court for damages they said they had suffered under the resettlement program.
The court rejected their case in March, in part because a 20-year statute of limitations had expired. But it accepted much of the evidence they submitted, potentially laying the groundwork for future cases against the North. Their lawyer said at the time that they planned to appeal.