Regime’s mouthpiece blasts request for talks

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Regime’s mouthpiece blasts request for talks


Pyongyang yesterday responded aggressively to South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se’s proposal for inter-Korean talks on its human rights record, calling it “absurd.”

Uriminzokkiri, the North’s anti-South Korea propaganda website, posted remarks yesterday labeling Yun’s Tuesday proposal for talks over North Korea’s “nonexistent human rights problem” as being “ridiculous behavior.”

The website is managed by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, part of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party.

At a Washington-led meeting on Tuesday, North Korea for the first time responded to South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se’s request that the two Koreas convene for talks to discuss Pyongyang’s human rights situation.

Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the ministerial talks on North Korea’s human rights conditions, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. The “puppet Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se showed indecent behavior, absurdly proposing talks on the North’s rights,” the website said.

Uriminzokkiri further stated that it was “a ludicrous complaint to tarnish the image of the more dignified, republican country in any way possible.”

It went on to reference the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry, which left more than 300 people dead, and the systematic abuse of a young Army private that led to his untimely death in April, as exemplary violations of “even the basic right to live in the South.”

At the ministerial meeting, attended by key countries active on the issue, including Japan and Australia, Kerry criticized North Korea’s human’s rights abuses - its systematic repression, arbitrary executions and prison camps - saying they are “unfathomable to nearly the entire world, and they have no place in the 21st century.”

Addressing the North Korean government over its gulags, he added, “You should shut this evil system down.”

Uriminzokkiri also lashed out at Kerry, saying that, “Instead of picking a fight about this and that in a scheme to create a ruckus about our human rights situation, [Washington] needs to seriously repent for its own rash actions.”

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il responded yesterday to the North’s response to Yun’s proposal for inter-Korea talks.

“Our government’s basic position is to discuss all the issues between North and South Korea,” he said in a briefing. “We can say that the human rights issue is included in this.”

Earlier this month, Pyongyang released its own human rights report to serve as a rebuttal to an assessment released in February by the UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea’s human rights violations and abuses. Pyongyang emphasized that its people enjoyed basic rights such as freedom of speech, and glossed over issues like its political prisoner camps.

Noh said that the South Korean government hoped that “in future opportunities for North-South talks, consultation of humanitarian issues, as well as human rights, would be included.”


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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