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Press Releases

Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yul, “We Will Use Every Opportunity to Raise Voices on North Korean Human Rights.”

Date
2024-05-30
hit
2954

1. On May 30 (Thursday), Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yul delivered welcoming remarks at the International Forum on Human Rights in North Korea, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the release of the report by the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the DPRK.


2. Minister Cho highlighted that the North Korean regime continues to deny widespread human rights violations taking place in  North Korea. He emphasized that the Korean government will utilize every opportunity to raise its voice on North Korean human rights issues.


3. Furthermore, Minister Cho pointed out that North Korea has committed human rights violations beyond its borders, calling on the North Korean regime to immediately repatriate all abductees, detainees, and prisoners of war. He stressed that North Korean defectors are subjected to inhumane treatment including torture, if they are forcibly repatriated to North Korea, and highlighted that they must be allowed to reach their desired destinations.


4. With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the COI report, Minister Cho stated that as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Korea will strive to revitalize discourse on North Korean human rights in the Security Council as well as to actively utilize the occasion of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of North Korea scheduled for November.


5. Moreoever, Minister Cho said that expanding the universal values of freedom and human rights is tantamount to unification, noting the importance of empowering the voices of the youth as well as North Korean defectors, who are “a prelude to reunification."


6. This forum was attended by experts from governments, academia and civil society, including Ambassador for International Cooperation on North Korean Human Rights Lee Shin-wha, former member of the UN COI Marzuki Darusman, Chairman of the Unification Future Planning Committee Lee Jung-hoon, U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Julie Turner, Director General for North-East Asia at Global Affairs Canada Joya Donnelly, and Senior Vice President for Asia and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Victor Cha. Participants all together assessed the past and present of human rights in North Korea and exchanged views on ways for future cooperation.


7. In particular, a special session was held featuring speakers such as the first North Korean defector-turned-lawyer Lee Young-hyun, a North Korean defector-turned-YouTube creator Yoon Seol-mi and CEO of HanVoice Sean Chung, who addressed the role of youth in advancing human rights in North Korea.


8. Participants agreed that the international community must act to bring about change in the North Korean regime and discussed various ways to put pressure on and engage with North Korea for an effective resolution of the issue, with a particular focus on the human rights-security nexus. They also discussed in depth other issues related to North Korean human rights such as access to information, forced labor and accountability measures, and shared various efforts to address them.


9. In her closing remarks, Ambassador Lee Shin-wha underscored that the international community's attention is still insufficient compared to the gravity of North Korea's human rights situation and the need for accountability. She called for expanding international consensus through a comprehensive approach that encompasses the human rights-security nexus, accountability, and humanitarian situation.


10. This forum, which featured speakers from public, private and academic fields, reaffirmed the international community’s shared commitment to promoting North Korean human rights and contributed to raising awareness of the gravity of the issue through the enthusiastic participation of the audience, which included members of diplomatic missions, civil society organizations, and students.