NEW YORK -- South Korea's top envoy at the United Nations appealed Thursday to the international community to pay more attention to the dire human rights conditions that female North Korean defectors endure in the North before escape.
Addressing a UN Security Council (UNSC) session, Ambassador Hwang Joon-kook said it is "heartbreaking" to see that many North Korean women arrive in South Korea only after suffering from years of human rights violations in the North.
"I would like to remind neighboring countries that the principle of non-refoulement should be also applied to North Korean defectors," he said.
It marked the first time that the South Korean government brought up the human rights issue of female North Korean defectors at an open debate session of the UNSC.
North Koreans forcibly repatriated to their homeland are often subject to torture, arbitrary detention, summary execution, sexual violence and other inhumane treatments.
At a UN Human Rights Council session held earlier in the day, Hwang pointed out that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in North Korea has aggravated its human rights situations.
Hwang's remarks come as South Korea is "positively" considering co-sponsoring a UN resolution condemning North Korea's grave human rights conditions after refraining from doing so for years under the preceding liberal administration.
South Korea has not participated as a co-sponsor of the UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning the North's human rights abuses since 2019 under the Moon Jae-in government that wanted to improve ties with North Korea. (Yonhap)