Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Robert R. King today advancing human rights is a top U.S. priority in its North Korea policy.
At the implementation of the North Korean Human Rights Act, Mr King underscored that the United States remains committed to a denuclearized North Korea that respects the rights of its citizens.
“Advancing human rights is a top U.S. priority in our North Korea policy and is among the primary factors that will determine if any long-term improvement between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will be possible.”-Mr. King
According to Mr. King, the Congress has been a consistent supporter of efforts to ensure that U.S. policy toward North Korea promotes respect for the human rights of the North Korean people. He noted that the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 and its reauthorization in 2008 demonstrates Congress’ commitment to ensuring that the well-being of the North Korean people remains an important foreign policy priority.
Mr. King elaborated that since receiving Senate confirmation in November 2009, he has engaged with international organizations, our bilateral partners, and NGOs, to identify concrete ways to improve human rights conditions inside the DPRK and encourage the DPRK government to respect the rights of its citizens.
“In my recent trip to Pyongyang, I engaged directly on human rights issues with Kim Kye-gwan, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other high-level officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Engaging with DPRK officials is a key requirement of the position of the Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights, which, until last week, the DPRK refused to accept outside of the UN context.”Mr. King
Mr. King stressed that it was the first time the United States’ Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues was granted entry to the DPRK and the first time they were able to engage in a direct dialogue about ways in which North Korea can improve its human rights record.
Mr. King pointed out that the permission granted to the Special Envoy is a significant first step. He believed it can build up on the foundation with U.S. partners who share deep concerns about the North Korean people.
It has been reported that DPRK continues to deny the entry requests made by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the DPRK, Mr. Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia, just as they denied his predecessor, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand.