U.S. special envoy urges int’l cooperation to expose N. Korea’s rights abuse

The new U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights called for international cooperation to expose "terrible" violations in the reclusive country as she met South Korea's top diplomat on Monday.

Ambassador Julie Turner also stressed that the human rights situation in the North remains "amongst the worst in the world" during her meeting with Foreign Minister Park Jin at the foreign ministry.

Turner, who was officially sworn in Friday, is currently visiting Seoul on a three-day trip, to meet government officials, civic organizations and North Korean defectors.

"As an international community, we need to come together to work to expose the regime's terrible abuses ... and create concrete change to improve the lives of the North Korean people," she said.

Turner added that she is looking forward to working with South Korea to further advance human rights in North Korea, saying she is "ready to hit the ground running."

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (R) poses for a photo with Julie Turner, a U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, prior to their talks at the foreign ministry in Seoul on Oct. 16, 2023. (Yonhap)

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (R) poses for a photo with Julie Turner, a U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, prior to their talks at the foreign ministry in Seoul on Oct. 16, 2023. (Yonhap)

At the meeting, Park also expressed South Korea's "deep" concerns over Pyongyang's "abysmal" human rights in the North, stressing that the government is making persistent efforts to enhance solidarity with the international community to improve the rights situation.

He added that South Korea is engaging in "vigorous diplomatic efforts" to ensure that North Korean defectors are not forcibly repatriated back home, but are rather safely transported to their desired destination in accordance with humanitarian principles.

"Under no circumstance should North Korean defectors be forcibly repatriated against their will and that is our government position," he said. "And we made it clear to the Chinese side."

Park also stressed that the "North Korean regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons at the expense of its citizens' human rights is irrational, irresponsible and immoral."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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