South Korean Unification Minister Discusses North Korean Human Rights with U.S. Civic Group Leader

SEOUL - South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho met with Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, the chief of the U.S.-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF), to discuss improving human rights conditions in North Korea, according to an announcement made by his office on Monday.

According to a new release by Yonhap News Agency, the meeting included discussions on China's recent forcible repatriation of North Korean defectors. Both parties expressed concerns and highlighted the need for international cooperation to prevent such actions. Earlier this month, advocacy groups claimed that China had forcibly sent back around 600 North Korean defectors detained in the provinces of Jilin and Liaoning. The Ministry later confirmed that a "large number" of North Korean residents had been repatriated but did not specify the number.

The HRF chief informed Minister Kim that the organization is planning to hold its annual international Oslo Freedom Forum in various locations in Asia. This is part of a broader effort to raise awareness of human rights issues in North Korea. The conference is usually held in Oslo, with satellite events mostly taking place in the United States, according to the group.

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