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North harangues U.S. over human rights push

Nov 27,2018
North Korea tore into the United States on Monday for denouncing its human rights situation, accusing Washington of scheming to overthrow the Pyongyang regime after receiving concessions in ongoing North-U.S. denuclearization talks.

The scathing comments, relayed in an editorial in the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, came after North Korea snubbed a high-level meeting with the United States to discuss denuclearization and hammer out specifics for a possible second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

A meeting scheduled for Nov. 8 in New York between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korea’s Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, was canceled just a day before when the North Koreans refused to show up.

Some local experts believe the North could be trying to build its negotiation power as it prepares to resume talks with the United States or testing the waters for a post-denuclearization future.

In the Korean editorial, the North vented frustration about a recent report from the New York-based Human Rights Watch. After interviewing 50 North Korean defectors, the international nongovernmental organization accused North Korean officials of raping and harassing women with almost total impunity.

Pyongyang also condemned the UN Third Committee, which oversees humanitarian issues, for adopting a resolution earlier this month calling for accountability for human rights violations in North Korea. The resolution, drafted by the United States and Japan, is expected to pass the UN General Assembly next month for the 14th year in a row.

The Rodong Sinmun article accused the United States of directing a “childish clown show” and said the Human Rights Watch report was “fake” and based off of testimony from “human scum” who were paid to tell lies. Washington’s talk about North Korean human rights issues is absolutely “baseless,” the North continued.

“The United States should be aware,” the regime warned. “The political-military strategic dynamics between us and the United States has fundamentally changed.”

The United States should act with “prudence” after realizing how North Korea’s “strategic position has changed,” the editorial went on, apparently referring to the North’s possession of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which it claims can reach the U.S. mainland.

The reason why Washington has been “hanging on to its clown show” for so long is because it wants to overthrow the North Korean government by justifying its pressure campaign and receiving concessions through North-U.S. dialogue, according to the article. “The United States goes about saying that the nuclear issue is the stumbling block between North-U.S. relations, but even if that issue becomes resolved, the United States will keep raising the human rights issue and come forward with other new collateral conditions, forcing us to change our system according to their demands.”

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