Recent South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate Koreans who were forced to perform labor for them during the war have cast a shadow on already strained bilateral ties.

In July, the Seoul High Court ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. (NSSMC) to pay 100 million won (¥9.5 million) to each of four plaintiffs, becoming the first South Korean court to order a Japanese firm to pay compensation for wartime labor. In a separate lawsuit, the Busan High Court ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to pay 80 million won to each of five plaintiffs as compensation for the conscripted labor they performed during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The two firms appealed the rulings and the South Korean Supreme Court is expected to rule on the cases this year.