Resolve human rights issue

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Resolve human rights issue

North Korea on Sunday denounced a UN resolution that calls for its top leaders to be referred to an international court of justice over the country’s human rights conditions. It threatened the United States, South Korea and other supporters of the resolution with the “toughest counteractions,” including a fourth nuclear test.

The National Defense Commission, the highest-ranking authority in Pyongyang, sent a warning to Seoul over its approval of the resolution on the North Korean human rights issue.

“Does the Blue House think it will be safe if a nuclear war takes place on this land?” the North asked. Its fiery tone resembles the rhetoric in 1994 when Pyongyang threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire.”

A day after the UN’s third committee passed a nonbinding resolution urging the Security Council to refer North Korea’s grave human rights violations to the International Criminal Court, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s war deterrence will be elevated in an “unlimited manner” and that the U.S. hostility was “compelling us not to refrain from conducting a new nuclear test any longer.”

Analysts believe the resolution has given North Korea a pretext to detonate a nuclear device for the fourth time. But connecting the human rights issue with a nuclear test is preposterous. Even Moon Hee-sang, head of the main opposition New Political Alliance for Democracy, denounced Pyongyang’s response.

Nuclear threats from North Korea have become almost cliche. It will likely carry out a test based on its decision regardless of developments in the UN on the human rights issue. We must not waver in the face of saber-rattling and push ahead with the National Assembly’s law on North Korean human rights conditions, which has been gathering dust for nearly 10 years. We should not look sideways when the world is poised to bring justice to the dire situation in North Korea. We must accelerate legislation by regarding the state of North Korean human rights as universal crimes against humanity.

A set of five bills on improving North Korean human rights from the ruling party and a separate law on the issue from the main opposition will be presented on Monday to the National Assembly committee on foreign and unification affairs. There are some differences in the two bills, but there is enough room for a compromise. A bipartisan agreement to highlight the human rights conditions and efforts to improve the lives of North Koreans is possible. We hope the legislature will reach an agreement on the issue. JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 24, Page 30


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