Mother sides with daughter over son in inheritance dispute

The interior of an apartment in Scientists Street, Pyongyang / Image= Ryugyong website

A Daily NK source has reported that a recent dispute between siblings over the inheritance of a home in North Korea has led to the filing of a complaint to the Workers’ Party.

A source in Ryanggang told Daily NK during a telephone conversation on June 18 that “dispute section officers were sent out to the scene of a confrontation between a brother and sister over the ownership of a home. The Party officers eventually left the scene after being unable to determine a solution for the parties involved.”

The details of the incident according to the source are as follows. In Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, a son who returned home after 10 years of military service and a daughter who was living at their mother’s house after marriage had been fighting for months over ownership of the residence, and their neighbors were said to have been unsuccessful in their attempts to assist in finding a resolution.

The mother is reportedly siding with her daughter on the matter. After the son returned home, the mother said, “He feels like a stranger after 10 years and I have trouble talking with him. I intend to give the house to my daughter and live with her.”

“I cannot afford a house to give you when you get married, so go and marry a woman who owns a home,” the mother allegedly told her son.

The daughter is also firmly asserting her rights to the house. “I have been supporting my mother with money earned from my business. This house belongs to the one who can provide for her,” she said, adding that the son broke down in tears, saying, “I returned home after leaving to defend the country for 10 years. Isn’t this too harsh?”

In relation to the situation, North Korean Family Law states, “When a citizen dies, the person’s property is inherited by the spouse, children, and parents (Article 46),” and “When there are multiple heirs of the same rank, each heir is entitled to an equal share of the inheritance (Article 47).”

However, it is said that few residents are aware of this law.

“The villagers who witnessed the dispute chose not to get involved, as they did not want to meddle in other people’s affairs, but saw it as an unfortunate occurrence,” a separate source in Ryanggang Province explained.

The son, who was driven out of the house, said that he was staying in a room in the factory where he worked. According to the source, the son’s superiors were infuriated when they learned about the incident and filed a complaint to the Party committee complaints section. Although the Party officers in charge tried to convince the mother and daughter to settle the dispute, it was to no avail.

“The Party officers had to go out to the home because a complaint was filed, but they didn’t know how to deal with the situation. They only said that they were sorry for the son’s situation and asked the family members to try to find a solution without fighting with each other, since the officers were not in a position to tell them what to do,” the additional source said.

“There are similar incidents occurring in households where a family member has recently been discharged from the military. Even though there is a growing number of parents and children who argue over home ownership, the authorities have not been able to establish any concrete measures.”