U.S. Envoy Advocates for ‘Durable Solutions’ to North Korean Human Rights Crisis

SEOUL - Julie Turner, the newly appointed U.S. special representative for North Korean human rights, called for "durable solutions" for North Koreans seeking refuge overseas, particularly in light of recent forced repatriations carried out by China. Turner spoke at a media roundtable at the American Diplomacy House in Yongsan, Seoul, on Wednesday.

The comments were reported by Yonhap News Agency and come in the wake of reports that China forcibly sent back approximately 600 North Korean defectors to their homeland last week. Turner emphasized the need for international cooperation to prevent further forced repatriations and to address the ongoing human rights situation in North Korea.

The special representative expressed her intention to collaborate closely with the South Korean government to bring about tangible changes in North Korea's human rights conditions. "As an international community, we should all be concerned, and this requires all governments to work together to ensure that there are not more repatriations," she said.

Although newly assigned, Turner underscored her role in "reinvigorating" the international community to ensure accountability for those responsible for human rights violations in North Korea. Officials in Seoul stated that following Turner's visit, the United States and South Korea plan to resume a bilateral consultative channel focused on North Korean human rights issues. Such talks had been discontinued under the previous Moon Jae-in government.

In addition to addressing the broader human rights issues, Turner also mentioned a new focus within her mandate concerning the issue of separated families, including prisoners of war, abductees, and detainees. "This is an issue that the entirety of the U.N. community and the international community should be focused on," Turner added.

scroll to top