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North slams human rights monitor

Mar 27,2018
North Korea accused the United Nations of trying to topple its leadership with resolutions condemning the country’s human rights record and called such pressure a core reason for strengthening its military capabilities.

The scathing denouncement, issued through the North’s state-run media over the past several days, came after the UN Human Rights Council announced last Friday that it would extend a mandate to monitor the human rights situation in North Korea for another year. The council urged Pyongyang to cooperate with its special rapporteur and provide unrestricted access to the country for examination.

According to the council, the European Union and Japan were troubled by “systematic and widespread” human rights violations, some of which could amount to “crimes against humanity.” Japan is said to have raised the issue of the North’s abductions, some of which have involved its own citizens, and called on the international community to continue exerting maximum pressure on Pyongyang.

In response, North Korea’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva said it would “resolutely and totally” reject the resolution, calling it an attempt by the United States and its allies to overthrow the North’s leadership. Instead, the council ought to investigate human rights abuses in the Western Hemisphere and wartime atrocities committed by Japan in Korea during World War II, the mission said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Sunday.

In an editorial on Monday, the North’s state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, accused the United States of trying to internationalize North Korea’s human rights issue in order to bring down the government. The newspaper argued North Korea should enhance its military capabilities to protect its state sovereignty.

North Korea watchers speculate that the United States, which has three citizens detained in the North, might raise the abduction issue when the two countries meet for their first-ever summit in the coming weeks.

North Korea has a history responding to any critique of its human rights record with vitriolic commentary through its state-run outlets, but the frequency of these reports has risen lately, according to South Korean government officials.

This could be interpreted as a warning to the United States not to bring up the issue at the upcoming meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]