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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
An external-focused North Korean outlet on Wednesday denounced the South Korean government for carrying out an “intolerable provocation” in allowing last week’s visit to the country by a UN human rights expert.
A Korean-language commentary, carried by the Meari website — which largely targets international audiences — comes in response to a visit by Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK Tomas Ojea Quintana between June 17 and 21.
The piece is the first reaction to Quintana’s recent visit by DPRK-run outlets, and warns that the “human rights’ racket,” previously “heinously implemented” under conservative South Korean governments, had “played a major role in driving inter-Korean relations into the worst state of collapse.”
The North Korean media reported that “villainous machinations of confrontation with the fellow countrymen” had taken place recently, despite Seoul and Pyongyang’s commitment to the “improvement and development of inter-Korean relations.”
In a commentary written by Ko Chong Myong, the Meari denounced the South Korean authorities for “bringing in the UN ‘Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea’ once again and adhering to the play of providing him with materials.”
“It goes without saying that the ‘human rights issue’ fabricated by hostile forces is… anti-DPRK slander and a conspiracy aiming to tarnish the image of our-style socialist system and achieve international cooperation in imposing pressure on us,” the North Korean outlet said.
The South Korean government’s decision to allow the visit represents, it continued, an “intolerable provocation against our dignity and system and the reckless, confrontational, and imprudent behavior of taking advantage of the U.S. scheme to stifle the DPRK.”
Seoul has created a “provocative human rights racket instead of looking for anything that could help the improvement of inter-Korean relations,” it added, warning the current government against “confrontational rackets… insulting the dignity and system of the DPRK.”
“Domestic and foreign public opinion agrees that it could lead to catastrophic consequences,” Meari said, stressing that the two Koreas should work together to improve bilateral ties.
Meari said now is the time for the North and the South to prove their “sincerity in front of the times, the nation and history by taking practical actions that can contribute to the improvement of relations, rather than making an act of inciting distrust and confrontation.”
Following Quintana’s visit to Seoul in January, both internally and externally-oriented outlets condemned the Special Rapporteur, with both party daily the Rodong Sinmun and the Minju Choson, the chief organ of the DPRK Cabinet and Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) Presidium, carrying commentaries.
But while Wednesday’s coverage focused on condemning the South Korean government for its cooperation with the UN human rights expert, North Korean media in January opted to attack Quintana personally.
The Rodong‘s commentary, for instance, accused the special rapporteur of attempting to “create an artificial obstacle to the development intervening in inter-Korean relations,” while the Minju Choson said Quintana had “poured cold water onto the improvement of the North-South relationship.”
North Korean external media Uriminzokkiri that the same month, too, also described the envoy as a “dimwit that can’t even tell what is true, what is false, if the sun is shining or the earth is spinning.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: UN Photo