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NK kids face death penalty for distributing K-dramas: Seoul envoy

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : April 4, 2024 - 15:08

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South Korean Ambassador to the UN Hwang Joon-kook speaks during a UN Security Council meeting at the UN's headquarters in New York, Wednesday. (Livestream of the meeting from UN Web TV) South Korean Ambassador to the UN Hwang Joon-kook speaks during a UN Security Council meeting at the UN's headquarters in New York, Wednesday. (Livestream of the meeting from UN Web TV)

South Korean Ambassador to the UN Hwang Joon-kook stated that children in North Korea face grave human rights abuses, including receiving the death penalty for distributing South Korean dramas, during a UN Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

During the UNSC Briefing on Children and Armed Conflict, Hwang mentioned that children in North Korea face “egregious human rights violations,” despite North Korea being a signatory country to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“According to numerous public sources, including North Korean defectors’ testimonies, children in the DPRK are exposed to egregious human rights violations, including the death penalty for distributing South Korean dramas, detention to political prisons alongside their family members as collective punishment and widespread use of child labor,” said Hwang, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Hwang added that North Korean children are facing a humanitarian crisis as the country's leadership spends its resources on nuclear and ballistic missile programs and luxury items.

Citing a report published by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank Group, Hwang also noted that “17 percent of children in the DPRK are reported to suffer from stunted growth due to malnourishment.”

Meanwhile, Hwang argued that children affected by armed conflict are entitled to “special respect and protection” according to international humanitarian law, citing the conflict occurring in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Palestine, where seven aid workers from the nonprofit organization World Central Kitchen were recently killed in an Israeli airstrike.

“In the face of these dismaying challenges, it is imperative, first and foremost, that the Security Council stand firm on its zero-tolerance against the denial of humanitarian access to children,” Hwang mentioned.