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Pyongyang lashes out at Seoul’s appointment of NK human rights ambassador

Lee Shin-wha, new ambassador-at large on North Korean human rights issues (Yonhap)
Lee Shin-wha, new ambassador-at large on North Korean human rights issues (Yonhap)

North Korea lashed out at South Korea’s appointment of an ambassador-at-large on North Korean human rights issues on Wednesday, calling it “Seoul’s vicious political provocation to battle with Pyongyang until the end.”

North Korea’s propaganda radio station Echo of Unification strongly criticized the South, as Seoul has recently appointed Lee Shin-wha, an international relations professor at Korea University, to the post that has been vacant for the past five years.

“(South Korea) appointed a wicked combatant as ‘ambassador-at-large on North Korean human rights issues,’ a post that was vacant for the past five years, and it is ardently gathering international pressure against North Korea’s human rights (situation), puffed up like a grasshopper on a mugwort stalk,” the North Korean outlet said.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry appointed Lee to the post on July 28, reviving the ambassador-at-large post, which was first created in line with the enactment of the North Korean Human Rights Act in September 2016.

“South Korea’s past puppet administrations that follow the United States have been carrying out the anti-Republic (anti-North) scheming, and the danger, craftiness and viciousness that the plots contain are the factors pushing the North-South relations into a quagmire of collapse,” the outlet said, firing back that South Korea, which it referred to as a “colony of the US” has more human rights problems.

In South Korea, the first ambassador-at-large was appointed in 2016 by the Park Geun-hye administration. The conservative government had tapped former human rights ambassador Lee Jung-hoon to the post, to increase pressure against the North Korean regime for its human rights violations.

After Lee stepped down in September 2017, the liberal Moon Jae-in administration, inaugurated in May of the same year and holding a friendlier stance towards Pyongyang, left the seat vacant throughout the five-year term.

The conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration, which takes a more hard-line standpoint against Pyongyang than its predecessor, appears to have revived the post, as it has been more vocal about improving the human rights situation in North Korea.

Lee Shin-wha 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. 

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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