Asia South Korea risks North’s wrath over human rights support

South Korea risks North’s wrath over human rights support

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.

(AA) – South Korea made no attempt to appease its northern neighbor Wednesday, insisting it would support global efforts to end human rights violations in North Korea – hours after a United Nations committee passed a resolution to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The European Union-drafted resolution, approved by 111-19 in New York, will now be up for a further General Assembly vote next month.

Despite recent efforts to improve ties with Pyongyang, South Korea’s government responded by vowing to “aggressively cooperate” to improve the North’s human rights conditions.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, unification ministry spokesperson Lim Byeong-cheol added, “Seoul’s stance is that human rights issues should be dealt with in terms of the universal values of mankind.”

Despite the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s own finding of “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights” in North Korea, Pyongyang continues to reject such accusations.

The North has also been seen to be gathering support from abroad – a last-ditch attempt Tuesday by Cuba to remove the referral to the ICC from the resolution was voted down.

One of North Korea’s most powerful officials also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin the same day – and delivered a personal letter from leader Kim Jong-un, according to a Kremlin press release.

Worker’s Party secretary Choe Ryong-hae is set to remain in Russia until next week – his trip being viewed as all the more significant considering Moscow’s veto power on the U.N. Security Council, and claims that Pyongyang-Beijing ties are weakening.

Choe was also among the North’s delegation that made a surprise visit to South Korea early last month.

Subsequent calls by the South’s President Park Geun-hye for Pyongyang to improve its human rights were condemned by North Korea as “unpardonable” and a “reckless” threat to dialogue, according to the country’s state-run news agency, the KCNA.

Park’s goal of paving the way to a unified Korean Peninsula continues regardless, with South Korea’s Financial Services Commission reiterating Tuesday the government’s previously stated goal of raising $500 billion to help ease the financial gap with the North in the event of reunification.

Technically the Koreas are still at war as they never signed a peace treaty after a ceasefire effectively ended their 1950-53 conflict.

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