“The hearing was only a beginning, not the end,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who hosted the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress hearing on South Korea’s law prohibiting the flying of anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea. Speaking with reporters via teleconference after the hearing, The congressman said he will look into the follow-up measures of the South Korean government, suggesting that there could be another hearing depending on the South Korean government’s action.
The bipartisan caucus held a two-hour virtual hearing on South Korea’s leaflet ban and human rights issues in North Korea. Six witnesses of the hearing included North Korea Freedom Coalition Chairman Suzanne Scholte, lawyer Gordon Chang, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch John Sifton, Senior Research Fellow for East Asia Jessica Lee, former South Korean ambassador to Russia Lee In-ho, and lawyer Jeon Soo-mi. There were voices calling for an amendment of the leaflet ban at the hearing. Democrat Rep. Jim McGovern, who is co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, said he hopes the South Korean National Assembly will decide to amend the law if it can be discussed again.
The South Korean Ministry of Unification did not make any comment on the hearing but reiterated its position on the matter during a briefing on Friday, by saying, “The anti-leaflet law has been revised to protect the lives and safety of people residing in the border region and it will implement the law according to the purpose of the revision.”