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(2nd LD) S. Korea co-sponsors UNHRC draft resolution on N.K. human rights after 5 yrs

North Korea 16:12 March 23, 2023

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; UPDATES with comments from foreign ministry, minor edits throughout)

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has co-sponsored a U.N. human rights council draft resolution on North Korea's gross rights violations for the first time in five years, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

Seoul has participated as a co-sponsor in the draft resolution to be adopted at the 52nd regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) around April 3, according to the ministry.

The South Korean government will "continue to proactively participate in the U.N. and the international community's efforts to improve North Korea's dire human rights situations," the ministry said.

"South Korea's return as a co-sponsor to the UNHRC resolution after a five-year hiatus reflects our position that emphasizes freedom, democracy, peace and universal values, and aims to become a global pivotal state," Lim Soo-suk, spokesperson for the ministry, said during a regular press briefing.

(2nd LD) S. Korea co-sponsors UNHRC draft resolution on N.K. human rights after 5 yrs - 1

The latest draft resolution, led by Sweden and the European Union, urged the North to ensure freedom of speech both online and offline, allow the establishment of independent media and reconsider its law on blocking cultural content from outside the reclusive country.

In 2020, North Korea adopted a new law on "rejecting the reactionary ideology and culture" that bans people from distributing or watching media originating from South Korea, the United States and other countries.

Submitted to the council Tuesday (Geneva time), the draft resolution also called on Pyongyang to disclose all relevant information, including the whereabouts, of foreigners detained or kidnapped in the North to the families of the victims.

It appears to reflect the Seoul government's demand for the North to clarify the death of a South Korean fisheries official who was fatally shot by the North's coast guard near the Yellow Sea border between the two Koreas in 2020, observers said.

The UNHRC has adopted a resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses every year since 2003.

South Korea, however, did not co-sponsor such a U.N. resolution from 2019 to 2022 under the previous Moon Jae-in administration that apparently sought to avoid tensions with the North and resume inter-Korean dialogue.

The South co-sponsored a U.N. General Assembly resolution on North Korea's human rights in December last year for the first time in four years, following the launch of the conservative Yoon Suk Yeol administration in May.




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