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Korea University professor tapped as ambassador-at-large on North Korean human rights

New Ambassador-at-large on North Korean Human Rights Lee Shin-wha (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
New Ambassador-at-large on North Korean Human Rights Lee Shin-wha (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The government named Lee Shin-wha, an international relations professor at Korea University, as ambassador-at-large on North Korean human rights issues on Tuesday, filling in the post that has been vacant for the past five years.

The Foreign Ministry said it is appointing Lee as the ambassador to support the government’s diplomatic efforts to promote North Korean human rights, on bilateral and multilateral levels.

Lee, of the university’s department of political science and international relations, has written multiple books and reports on North Korea and international cooperation, and has ample work experience in the field of international cooperation, the Foreign Ministry said.

“The Korean government will work consistently with the international society to improve human rights for North Koreans,” the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

After graduating Ewha Womans University, Lee received her doctorate degree in international relations from the University of Maryland.

She was a former board member of the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund, and also special adviser to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the independent inquiry on the Rwandan genocide.

Lee also served as president of the Korea Academic Council on the United Nations System.

She is expected to work together with governments of other countries, international organizations and civic groups on human rights issues in North Korea, and also hold seminars and forums to raise awareness on the topic, the Foreign Ministry said.

The post was first introduced in 2016, in accordance with the North Korean Human Rights Act that was established in the same year under the conservative Park Geun-hye administration.

The first ambassador-at-large was Lee Jung-hoon, a former ambassador for human rights and an international studies professor at Yonsei University.

After Lee stepped down in September 2017, the liberal Moon Jae-in administration that was inaugurated in May the same year had left the seat vacant throughout the five-year term.

The current conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration, which takes a more hard-line stance against Pyongyang compared to his predecessor, has been more vocal of improving the human rights situation in North Korea.

By Jo He-rim (hherim@heraldcorp.com">erim@heraldcorp.com)
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