FM meets with special rapporteur to discuss human rights in N. Korea

By Catherine Chung
  • Published : Jul 17, 2017 - 16:53
  • Updated : Jul 18, 2017 - 09:17
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met with the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Tomas Ojea Quintana, Monday to discuss policies on dealing with the abject human rights situation in the reclusive state.

At the start of the meeting, Kang said that human rights in North Korea remains to be a "matter of great concern" to the South Korean government under President Moon Jae-in and the stance will remain in its discussion at the UN going forward.

Quintana is in Seoul to meet authorities of the South Korean government which took office in May as part of efforts to collect relevant data necessary for his report on North Korea's human rights situation in a UN General Assembly later this year. 

Foreign Minister Kang Kung-wha (R) shakes hands with the United Nations` Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana before holding a meeting in Seoul on July 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

This is his second visit to South Korea since taking the post last year.

"I believe this is a great opportunity for me to hear from different authorities of this new government about their approach and their policies toward the human rights situation (in the North)," he said.

Quintana reminded that he has a "two-track approach" in dealing with the North, which is to seek accountability and at the same time work to find ways of "engagement" and "dialogue" with the country.

While expressing concerns about North Korea's human rights abuses, Kang also stressed the importance of engagement to improve the rights situation, according to Seoul's foreign ministry.

She appealed for support of and attention to the issue of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and South Koreans detained in North Korea, it said.

Six South Koreans including three pastors -- Kim Jung-wook, Kim Kuk-gi and Choe Chun-gil -- are being held in captivity in North Korea.

Quintana is to meet with officials of relevant government agencies and ministries during his five-day stay. He will then hold a press conference on Friday to share the outcome of his trip. (Yonhap)