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S. Korea 'deeply concerned' about N. Korea's rights situation, minister tells U.N. rapporteur

North Korea 16:55 August 31, 2022

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's foreign minister said Wednesday his government is "deeply concerned" about the North Korean human rights issue as he had a meeting with the newly appointed U.N. special rapporteur on the matter in Seoul.

"Our government is deeply concerned about the human rights situation in North Korea," Park Jin said, speaking with Elizabeth Salmon, who took office early this month as Tomas Ojea Quintana's successor.

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (R) talks with Elizabeth Salmon, the newly appointed U.N. special rapporteur for North Korea's human rights, at his office in Seoul, on Aug. 31, 2022. (Yonhap)

He said South Korea will cooperate closely with the U.N. and the international community to address the problem. Lee Shin-hwa, Seoul's ambassador for North Korean human rights, joined the meeting.

Park described the Yoon Suk-yeol administration's appointment of Lee in July as demonstrating its resolve to play a leading role in efforts to improve the related situations in the North.

The conservative Yoon government has signaled a more aggressive approach toward the issue than the preceding liberal Moon Jae-in administration that was accused by critics of ignoring it and placing an excessive focus on improving relations with the recalcitrant nuclear-armed North.

Meanwhile, Michelle Bachelet, the outgoing U.N. high commissioner for human rights, warned publicly about the possibility of the serious impact from Pyongyang's continued isolation.

She was delivering a video speech during the Korea Global Forum for Peace, hosted by South Korea's unification ministry.

If such isolation is entrenched amid the lack of "communication" with the outside world and state-to-state trust, it could deal a heavier blow to the human rights situations in North Korea by escalating the risk of "miscalculation" and the likelihood of a military conflict, the former Chilean president said.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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