December 03, 2023

Should North Korean speakers be given a public platform?

We should hear them in their own words – and they should hear from us

I gather from a message from a former colleague in the Foreign Office that the DPRK ambassador to London and Aidan Foster-Carter are to debate on perspectives on the current situation on the Korean peninsula on June 9. Even though I suspect that there will be more heat than light in the discussion – both speakers have a robust reputation – this seems to me to be good news.

Even before I learnt of this encounter, NK News editor and publisher Chad O’Carroll had asked whether I would write on the subject of invitations to North Korean speakers. Like me, he had been at a meeting where a North Korean speaker could perhaps explain his – it is very, very rarely her – perspective in a way that no outsider could do. And yet, the occasions when this happens are rare indeed. We were also both aware, of course, of the recent incident at the UN when North Korea diplomats tried to shout down defectors testifying on human rights’ matters and then left the discussion – see here.