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(LEAD) UNHRC adopts resolution on N. Korea's human rights

All News 21:17 April 04, 2023

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; CHANGES dateline; UPDATES with more details throughout)

GENEVA/SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday adopted a resolution denouncing North Korea's gross human rights violations, which was co-sponsored by South Korea for the first time in five years.

The resolution, adopted by consensus at the 52nd regular session of the UNHRC, denounced North Korea for its widespread and systemic human rights abuses, and urged it to improve its rights record.

It also called on 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.

The legislation reportedly calls for sentencing of up to 10 years of hard labor for violators, and heavier punishment for those watching and distributing South Korean dramas, movies and music.

The latest 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.

(LEAD) UNHRC adopts resolution on N. Korea's human rights - 1

South Korea's foreign ministry welcomed the UNHRC's adoption of the resolution.

"The resolution calls for the North to acknowledge the crimes and right abuses that have occurred within the country, and take steps to stop its rights violations," the ministry said in a statement.

North Korea, however, flatly rejected the resolution, calling it a "document carrying political conspiracy."

"This document was written only for the sole purpose of disgracing my country. It is aimed at realizing an unrealistic dream of overthrowing our society," Han Tae-song, North Korea's ambassador to the Permanent Mission of the U.N. in Geneva, said at the UNHRC session.

The North has bristled at the international community's criticism of its human rights abuses, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

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.

South Korea also 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, as the conservative Yoon Suk Yeol administration has taken a proactive stance in dealing with the North's rights issues since its launch in May 2022.


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