(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 6-8)
SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea held an interagency government meeting Thursday on its North Korean human rights policy for the first time in over two years.
The meeting, last held in May 2020, came as the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration seeks a "principle-based" approach toward the North's human rights issue in a shift from the previous liberal Moon Jae-in government accused of having prioritized improving inter-Korean ties over addressing it.
Chairing the meeting of the 2022 Council on North Korean Human Rights, Vice Unification Minister Kim Ki-woong expressed hope that the session will provide an opportunity to discuss the implementation of the Yoon administration's North Korean human rights policy.
"I look forward to a productive discussion on the human rights situation of North Koreans, as well as the current policies of each ministry on promoting human rights and the Yoon Suk-yeol administration's key policy direction," Kim said.
Also attending the session were director general-level officials from the unification, foreign and justice ministries, as well as Lee Shin-wha, a political science professor at Korea University, who was recently appointed as the new envoy for North Korean human rights -- a position that had been left vacant since September 2017.
The unification ministry said the meeting assessed the North Korean human rights policy of the current government and discussed the direction of the drafting of its report on the matter.
In the meeting, the vice minister stressed that the government will work on the issue of North Korean human rights with a greater sense of responsibility to meet expectations from the local and international society, it said.
The ministry added the agencies that took part in the meeting agreed to establish partnerships with civic groups on North Korean human rights and actively take part in global discussions on the issue, such as in the U.N.
Launched in October 2016, the council aims to strengthen intra-government policy coordination to help improve human rights in the reclusive country.
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