U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described North Korea as an "evil place," urging the international community to pay more attention to what's happening in the secretive communist nation.
"North Korea is one of the most closed and cruel places on earth. There's no question about it. There's evil that is taking place there that all of us ought to be deeply and are deeply concerned about," he said in an interview with MSNBC television that aired Wednesday.
He cited human rights abuses prevalent in the nation, which were highlighted in a U.N. panel report issued earlier this month.
After a year-long investigation, the Committee of Inquiry said North Korea has committed organized, extensive and grave crimes against humanity.
The Kim Jong-un regime recently executed Jang Song-thaek, once the country's No. 2 leader, and others, reportedly using guns.
The secretary said there is no question about the level of depravity and the level of human rights violations there.
"This is an evil, evil place. And it requires enormous focus by the world in order to hold it accountable. And I think every aspect of any law that can be applied should be applied," he added.
The top American diplomat said he and Chinese leaders had in-depth talks on ways to deal with North Korea's nuclear program. He traveled to Beijing two weeks ago for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other top officials.
"We had very serious discussions there about the options available to us. And we are continuing to press for action," he said. He did not elaborate.
In a Beijing press conference in mid-February, the secretary said the Chinese put "some ideas" on the table.
Washington and Beijing will continue a relevant dialogue "in the days ahead," he added at that time.
But there is no news of any progress.
An informed diplomatic source here said there is no specific agreement on how to revive long-dormant attempts to denuclearize North Korea.
"Related parties are still making such an effort. They are in the process of making an agreeable package," the source said on the condition of anonymity. (Yonhap)