[EDITORIALS]Take a stand

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[EDITORIALS]Take a stand

The European Union will submit a resolution addressing North Korea’s human rights issues to the UN General Assembly. The matter is now considered serious enough to be dealt with at the full United Nations level, while in the past it had only been addressed by the Human Rights Commission. Until now, South Korea has been practically ignoring the issue, and we wonder how the government will react to this new situation.
Seoul has either given up participating or cast a blank ballot at a Human Rights Commission vote on three occasions. It said this action was inevitable because human rights conditions in the North would improve with better inter-Korean relations. And yet, that logic proves unconvincing to the international community. So although Seoul has been persistently citing the peculiar nature of inter-Korean relations, the matter is to be referred to the General Assembly.
Human rights do not form part of a country’s diplomatic strategy ― they are absolute, universal values to be protected and should not depend on a country’s circumstances. South Korea has been promoting its respect of human rights to the world. Therefore, Seoul’s North Korea policies must have their basis on such principles.
We are sending aid to the North because we hope this will help improve human rights there. But, Seoul has been repeatedly pointing to the peculiar nature of the two Koreas’ relations whenever human rights abuses in the North are cited. South Korea appears to have lost its awareness of why unification must be achieved.
Most importantly, Seoul must end its simple logic that supporting human rights improvement in the North will anger the North Korean government and thus worsen inter-Korean relations. To date, South Korea has sent over a trillion won ($1 billion) in assistance to the North, and investments through economic cooperation programs are ongoing. North Korea is relying more and more on the South.
The assumption that better inter-Korean relations will improve human rights in the North is wrong. That is nothing more than an excuse to avoid upsetting Pyongyang.
South Korea must not continue such an impolitic strategy. The international community will not accept it. Seoul must speak aloud about North Korean human rights in a dignified manner.
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