The establishment of a government-backed North Korean human rights foundation in South Korea is being held up by the opposition Minjoo Party, South Korea’s National Assembly Secretariat and the Ministry of Unification (MoU) said on Wednesday.
The Minjoo Party of Korea is yet to submit a list containing four nominees for the board of directors who could pass the necessary articles of association, the National Assembly Secretariat told NK News.
South Korea’s MoU is pushing ahead with a plan to set up the foundation after a bill on North Korean human rights went into effect on September 4, 2016. But the MoU said on Wednesday that the Minjoo Party was holding up procedure.
“The board of directors hasn’t been composed since some of the opposition parties postponed their recommendations,” MoU spokesperson Jeong Joon-hee told reporters during a briefing.
“We will organize the board of directors as soon as the opposition party completes its recommendation, and then will pass the articles of association,” Jeong said. “In accordance with the articles, we select people through open recruitment… And we are due to carry out these duties.”
The National Assembly Secretariat said the minor opposition People’s Party had recommended a director on October 10, and the ruling Saenuri Party on Wednesday told NK News it had submitted a list of five directors on September 30.
For the Minjoo Party, however, the distribution ratio of the board was a problem, given that the board of directors was composed of ten nominees recommended by the political parties and two nominees recommended by the MoU.
The party pointed out that seven directors would be selected from the MoU and the ruling party and only five directors came from the opposition parties.
“Our party is resolving our differences with the Ministry of Unification,” an unnamed official from the Minjoo Party told NK News on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity.
“The MoU argues that it will choose a chairman and a secretary-general of the foundation,” the unnamed official said. “The human rights foundation and its management could be manipulated by the government and the ruling party.”
“We believe that the opposition parties should appoint the chairman, at least, to seek balance and overcome numerical inferiority.”
The issue of the human rights foundation has resurfaced amid accusations of espionage against Moon Jae-in, a leading presidential candidate from the Minjoo Party.
Former vice foreign minister Song Min-soon has argued in new memoirs that back in 2007, Moon and the late President Roh Moo-hyun abstained from a vote on a UN resolution condemning North Korean human rights under pressure from North Korea.
“The Saenuri Party is spewing venom for an agitative purpose… labeling the Minjoo Party a follower of North Korea,” spokesperson for the Minjoo Party Park Kyung-mee told reporters on Tuesday. “We shouldn’t gloss over the truth.”
The MoU told NK News on Wednesday that the ministry had already set up an office in Seoul and was recruiting officials for administrative roles.
The South Korean government has allocated 13.4 billion KRW ($12 million) for next year’s operational budget for the foundation and plans to employ 40 members of staff, they added.
Through public-private partnerships (PPP), the foundation aims to support research, policy development and proposals related to North Korean human rights and humanitarian assistance.
Feature Image: Minjoo Party of Korea
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