North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun criticized the United States harshly in a commentary titled “Delving into the evils of the United States.” The newspaper argued that Washington’s mentioning of human rights issues is aimed at justifying pressure on implementing sanctions on the North, inducing its concessions during negotiations, and plotting its overthrow. Not only with that, North Korean radio station against the South, Echo of Unification, claimed Sunday that it is an obvious betrayal of the North’s generosity and sincerity for the South to participate in the process regarding U.N. resolutions on North Korean human rights issues, blaming that the move runs counter to the recent improvements in the inter-Korean relations.
Pyongyang’s offensive reaction was made before the UN General Assembly Third Committee was scheduled to be voted at the U.N. General Assembly. However, it implies a threatening message to the United States that human rights issues are not to be dealt with on the negotiation table before the upcoming discussions with Pyongyang and Washington. It is also reflected in remarks by Rodong Sinmun, “The United States will continue to add new conditions, such as human rights issues, during the negotiating process even if the nuclear issues are to be resolved. Added to this, the North has criticized the South for contributing to the motion of the resolution in question.
Since the U.S-North dialogue was resumed, Washington and Seoul have refrained from making government-level responses to North Korean human rights issues. In particular, the South Korean government has been excessively careful to mention relevant issues. This led to criticisms at home and abroad that inter-Korean negotiations are the sole interest on the Seoul’s side with North Korea’s human rights swept under the rug. The South Korean government may intend not to disturb North Korea for the sake of dialogue. However, it is doubtful whether this approach works, which only allows the North to be on the counteroffensive.
The United Nations has been condemning North Korea’s systemic, comprehensive and serious human rights infringement, advising sanctions of the highest-ranking leader. Each year has seen such resolutions adopted on North Korea since 2005, but there has been little progress in its determination to fix relevant issues. What’s more absurd is that it even takes counteroffensive approach. In return, the South Korean government has to raise our voices, too.