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(LEAD) U.S. envoy visits home of N.K. defector leading human rights group

All News 17:06 October 10, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more comments in 7th para)

SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- The United States ambassador to the United Nations visited a home of a North Korean defector leading a human rights group in South Korea on Monday in an apparent bid to highlight dismal conditions in the reclusive country.

According to her Twitter account and photos posted there, Samantha Power visited the Seoul home of Jung Gwang-il, head of "No Chain," a nonprofit organization working to bring attention to human rights violations taking place in the North. He is a former North Korean inmate in the Yodok prison camp, also known as Camp 15.

"Jung Gwang-il, once a political prisoner in the DPRK and former torture victim, now shining a spotlight on North Korea's gulags and get information past North Korean government's censors," Power said in a comment, referring to the North by its official name.

Power's visit to the organization is apparently aimed at bringing fresh attention to the human rights situations in the North.

When she arrived in South Korea last Saturday, she said that one of the main objectives for her four-day stay here is "to meet people who have suffered under the North Korean regime's rule." She called human rights violations there "the worst crimes with really no parallel in the world."

Power reportedly stayed at the office for about one hour but details on what was talked about have yet to be made available.

Later, she also visited an alternative school for North Korean defectors located in southern Seoul. She posted a picture with a group of students studying there, with a comment saying, "Met inspiring young defectors at Daum School. Risked gulags to flee North Korea. Now studying to be nurses, engineers, lawyers in South Korea."

On Sunday, Power went to the truce village of Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border and a settlement support center for North Korean defectors, a move seen as efforts to highlight the solid alliance between Seoul and Washington and growing concerns over the abject human rights situation in the North.

Power's tour of South Korea is regarded as unusual given that the UNSC is working on a fresh resolution to penalize the North for conducting a nuclear test last month. It also comes amid concerns that the North could carry out yet another major military provocation to mark the anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party that falls on Monday.

She is to meet ranking government officials including Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on Monday before leaving the country on Tuesday.


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