Unusually for the U.S. Congress, the Congress is voicing its concern as South Korea is pushing through parliament a bill that would criminalize the sending of leaflets to North Korea. It says it could undermine democratic principles in Seoul as well as human rights in Pyongyang.
U.S. Representative Chris Smith, a co-chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, called the legislation “insane”, saying that it is damaging to human rights and democratic principles. “If they pass such a law, I call upon our State Department to critically re-evaluate the Republic of Korea’s commitment to democratic values in its annual human rights report, as well as in its report on international religious freedom,” he said in his statement released on Friday. He also declared that, if the legislation passed, he intended to convene a hearing to examine the Korean government’s failure to uphold civil and political rights.
Chris Coons also expressed concern about the bill on the same day after Ji Seong-ho of the People Power Party told him about it on his visit to the United States. Ji said Coons, a close advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, promised to share this issue with Biden’s security and foreign policy team.
In the meantime, seven members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), including the United States and the United Kingdom, discussed human rights abuses in North Korea and released a statement where it criticized North Korea for using the coronavirus pandemic “to crack down further on the human rights of its people.”