On Sept. 3 the family of Lee Dae-jun, the South Korean official shot dead by North Korean troops in 2020, met with UN envoy Elizabeth Salmon during her first official visit to Seoul. From left: Kim Ki-yun, the lawyer working with the Lee family; Elziabeth Salmon, the UN special rapporteur on North Korea human rights situation; Lee Rae-jin, the older brother of the official. (courtesy of Lee)
Elizabeth Salmon, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, said she supports the family of Lee Dae-jun, the South Korean fisheries official who was killed by North Korean soldiers at sea in 2020.
In a letter dated Sept. 23 seen by The Korea Herald, Salmon told Lee’s 20-year-old son, “I am here to support you and your family.” “I will support the efforts made by you, your family and the Republic of Korea to reveal the fact, to seek justice and to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy,” she said.
The UN expert said in the letter she was “aware of your father’s sad story.”
“I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you and your family to accept your father’s tragic death without knowing what exactly happened to him.”
She said earlier this month she had an opportunity to learn what his family has been doing to “seek information and justice” when she met with Lee Rae-jin, the official’s older brother.
“He told me how hard it was for you and your family to go through the stigma put on your father.”
She added that she “will try to become a bridge between your family and the international community.” Closing the letter, she said, “Please accept my sincere condolences to your father’s death.”
Salmon’s letter comes in response to one Lee’s son wrote to her on Aug. 2, shortly after the announcement of her appointment to the mandate, in which he asked for her help in “telling the world the truth about what happened to my father.”
“My father was unjustly branded a North Korea defector by the last South Korean administration under President Moon Jae-in,” he said in the letter addressed to Salmon. “My family spent the last two years trying not to let his death be covered up.”
In response to Salmon, Lee’s son said in a message he shared through his uncle: “Special rapporteur Salmon, thank you very much for writing back to me in support of my family. I feel relieved by your words.”
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org