[EDITORIALS]Human rights paradise?“We do not have detailed knowledge about the human rights conditions in North Korea,” Kim Chang-kuk, president of the National Human Rights Commission, told the National Assembly. That, he said, was the reason his commission could not compare rights abuses in the South with those in the North. That is a lame excuse. The commission protested against Seoul’s decision to send troops to Iraq, citing possible abuses of Iraqi human rights, but it is completely ignoring the human rights of North Koreans. We are skeptical about the commission’s qualifications to be a national body handling rights issues.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights is expected to adopt a resolution on North Korean human rights either today or tomorrow. Such issues were never raised here after the Kim Dae-jung administration took office, but the new government’s unification minister hinted at a willingness to change that policy. It seems that the rights commission is the only body that does not know the situation in the North and is unable to compare conditions in the two Koreas. We are dumbstruck.
Suppose that the rights commission actually did not have enough information about North Korean human rights issues. That still does not exempt the commission from its responsibilities. The UN rights commission has been discussing human rights in North Korea for weeks in Geneva. While our commission was so intent on protecting Iraqis, it turned a blind eye to the serious abuses of the human rights of our brothers. Reports of human rights conditions in the North abound; private organizations and activists are finding it difficult to read them all. The commission’s narrow-minded attitude and double standards must be reformed.
Human rights in North Korea must not be an off-limits topic. The government should work on repatriation of our war prisoners and abductees in the North. Inter-Korean cooperation and humanitarian aid should continue, but we must confront the North with our concerns. We should get what we want when we give the North what it wants. When the UN rights commission votes for the resolution, the government must not squander its vote.
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