Shin & Kim put an end to a senseless claim, based only on a forest-land investigation letter drawn up during the era of Japanese occupation, for the recovery of ancestors’ land and seeking the cancellation of registration of ownership preservation.
The forest land at issue is an area which the defendants' father lawfully purchased from the plaintiffs' ancestors around 1943 during the era of Japanese occupation. The defendants’ father had cultivated Korean pine forests and gathered pine nuts thereon. Also, he moved the graves of his ancestors to the forest land. The defendants have since inherited the forest land and continued to gather pine nuts. For about seven decades, the defendants have exercised their ownership over the land without trouble. However, a letter of forest-land investigation drawn up around 1934 contained a statement that the plaintiff’s ancestors had the forest land assessed. The plaintiffs who discovered this statement filed a claim, based on the document above, for the cancellation of the registration of ownership preservation which was made under the defendants’ names.
The Supreme Court maintained that a person under whose name the forest land was assessed according to the forest-land investigation letter had lawfully acquired real estate, and the registration of ownership preservation contradicting such statement constituted an invalid cause. Because it is difficult to establish facts regarding lawful succession of right in the event that documentary evidence of the transfer of ownership including the register is lost and the plaintiffs filed this claim to exploit such difficulty.
Shin & Kim argued that the completion of possession and acquisition by prescription based on the fact that the defendants’ father and the defendants themselves have possessed the forest land at issue for seventy years by cultivating Korean pine forests and gathering pine nuts therein. The court accepted the argument and dismissed all of the plaintiffs' claims.
Recently, the children of people under whose names land was assessed have filed lawsuits for the cancellation of register under a senseless drive to recover the land of ancestors. In fact, most of these children did not even know that the lands had been assessed, and brokers who inspected related letters of the forest-land investigation are involved to tempt such children into filing claims. This case is meaningful as it rejected such an unjustified claim according to the legal principles of acquisition by prescription.