“In cooperation with the international community, we will raise the awareness about human rights in North Korea, improve its people’s access to information, and promote respect for human rights in the country,” a U.S. State Department official said.
According to Voice of America (VOA) on Thursday, a member of the state department spokesman's office expressed the above stance to VOA’s request for comment on the criticism that leaflets sent to North Korea are not helpful for its people’s right to know.
VOA analyzed that the official emphasized the principle of the U.S. government to promote access to information in North Korea, instead of offering the usual answer of “Ask the South Korean government,” regarding the tensions over the leaflets between the South Korean government and North Korean defector groups. The comment implies that sending leaflets to the North helps provide information. The official went on to say that the human rights situation in North Korea is deeply concerning, linking the necessity of delivering information with the human rights issue.
Suzanne Scholte, the chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, sent a protest letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in via the South Korean Embassy in the U.S. regarding the South Korean government’s accusation of North Korean defector groups that dispatched leaflets and the commencement of procedures to revoke the groups’ permission of incorporation on Wednesday.
"I believe South Korea should protect – not clamp down on – the freedom of expression and human rights movement, such as sending leaflets to the North," said Scholte in the letter. "Grave damage to the freedom and human rights that South Korea has achieved over the decades is expected."