The human rights situation in North Korea will undoubtedly be discussed at length during the summit meetings between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden next week, according to South Korea’s ambassador to Washington, Cho Hyun-dong, on Friday.
The “dire” human rights situation in North Korea must not be neglected, according to South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, who spoke virtually at the same event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
South Korean President Yoon is to meet with Biden on Wednesday during a weeklong state visit to the United States.
Yoon has sought to turn the spotlight on North Korean rights following a failed policy of engagement with Pyongyang pursued by his predecessor Moon Jae-in. He said last month the international community should have better knowledge about the situation.
“We should never allow ourselves to forget the suffering of the North Korean people,” Park said. “For only by remembering and recounting the dire human rights situation on the ground can we bring about change.”
South Korea’s Washington envoy Cho Hyun-dong said that with Yoon’s state visit just around the corner, he was “sure that our two presidents’ discussion will afford significant attention to the critical issue of North Korea and human rights.”
U.N. human rights investigator Tomas Ojea-Quintana said last month that the world powers bear responsibility for ignoring crimes against humanity that may still be perpetrated in North Korea amid a focus on its nuclear program.
He said he had received information confirming the findings of a landmark 2014 U.N. Commission of Inquiry on extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape, forced abortion, sexual violence, political persecution and “the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation” in the isolated country.
Ojea-Quintana said the U.N. Security Council should refer grave North Korean violations to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.