[EDITORIALS]Atrocities unchallengedThe South Korean government’s reaction to the international conference on North Korean human rights in Seoul is extremely lame. Unification Minister Chung Dong-young rejected the request for a meeting by the visiting U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights, Jay Lefkowitz. The Unification Ministry even drew up an internal guideline of why North Korean human rights should not be publicly addressed.
South Korea should be most concerned about rights abuses in North Korea because it is our brethren who are suffering unspeakable torture and hunger. A normal government must show genuine interest in such a conference, even if it may have a slightly different view. And yet, Seoul is not only indifferent to it, but does not hide its displeasure over the event. This is extremely lamentable.
Mr. Chung is the top official of South Korean foreign affairs and national security. It is his duty to pay attention to why domestic and international pressure is growing to demand improved human rights in the North. The United States, in particular, is increasingly taking a hard-line stance on the issue and we must pay attention to it as it is related to the North Korean nuclear crisis. It is unusual for the U.S. ambassador to South Korea to address the issue seriously.
It is undesirable to see discord between South Korea and the United States over the rights issues in the North. The international community, including the Untied States, is consistently taking issue with rights abuses by the North Korean regime. What will we gain from becoming an outsider?
By defending North Korea, we are risking the alliance with the United States. Should we give up the United States for North Korea? This is the deplorable reality that we are facing now.