North Korean media react to UN human rights office in Seoul

Rodong Sinmun claims South Korea is "living hell under the misrule of the traitors"
June 4th, 2014

North Korean state media has reacted angrily to the establishment of a UN human rights field office in Seoul on Wednesday calling it “an unpardonable hostile act and intolerable political provocation against the DPRK.”

The reaction was published in the form of an editorial in the North Korea daily national newspaper the Rodong Sinmun under the headline, “Unworkable Plot of Human Rights Violators“.

The editorial rejects criticism levelled against North Korea and alleges that South Korea, in accepting the establishment of the UN office, are “viciously conducting smear campaigns against the DPRK over its human rights.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) confirmed on May 5 that the UN would establish a field office in South Korea and would continue the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry’s February report.

The 372 page document concluded the existence of “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights” that in some instances amount to crimes against humanity and recommended that a field-based office be set up to “build on the collection of evidence and documentation work of the commission, and further expand its database.”

North Korea rejected the report’s findings and recommendations, saying that it was a fabricated document created by “hostile forces”.

The Rodong Sinmun article also accuses the South Korean government of establishing the office in an effort to divert attention away from its handling of the Sewol ferry disaster, for which it received heavy criticism.

“It is a clumsy trick to divert the public attention elsewhere and thus get rid of the worsening ruling crisis caused by the ferry “Sewol” disaster and cover up their crimes of having reduced south Korea to a wasteland of human rights,” the article read.

The article goes on to cite suicide, unemployment and crime rates within South Korea as evidence that it has become what the article calls “a living hell under the misrule of the traitors.”

North Korea’s state run news agency the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) also reported on the editorial, carrying quotes from the newspaper article and calling the establishment of the UN office a “politically-motivated provocation against the DPRK.”

The Rodong Sinmun article concluded that South Korea’s actions “are driving the inter-Korean relations to catastrophe and bringing about only a serious danger of war on the Korean peninsula.”

Image: Eric Lafforgue

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About the Author

Hamish Macdonald

Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.

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  • saveourmoney

    Rodong Sinmum and the KCNA certainly are fond of the word “unpardonable”.

    Despite the shrill language of their editorial, I don’t see what they’re so upset about. The UN will indeed set up an office in Seoul. They will study and document human rights violations in the DPRK. They will probably write other reports or make presentations to the full UN assembly in New York. But that will be the end of it (other than the bill).

    It is a worthwhile endeavor to articulate human rights abuses and to name the perpetrators – especially when the scale of the abuse is so large. But the broad goal of such reporting is usually to stop the abuse and / or bring the perpetrators to justice. The UN hasn’t had much luck with that part.

    No western nation is going to propose or enact regime change in the DPRK, so long as they do not attack their neighbors. No nation or group of nations is going to compel China or the DPRK’s other allies to pressure the Kim regime to embrace first world norms for human rights and due process.

    Improving human rights inside the DPRK is going to require strong efforts to destabilize the regime and a willingness to pick up the economic, social, and geopolitical pieces once (and if) the regime collapses. Given the lack of resolve on the world stage to destabilize the regime, the only other viable alternative is limited engagement, which is going to be full of unintended consequences, one of which could be the short and mid term strengthening of the regime.

    I wish the UN the best of luck in their endeavors, but I do not believe they will amount to much.

    • Warren Lauzon

      I agree that it will not amount to much, but I figure that anything that gives Kim-3 heartburn is a good thing. The only thing that will improve human rights in North Korea is for the regime to fall – and that has it’s own problems.