UN opens human rights office in Seoul to monitor N. Korea
The United Nations Tuesday opened a new office in Seoul to monitor North Korea’s human rights record, after accusing the isolated regime of abuses “without parallel in the contemporary world” in a report published last year.
The office was formally opened in a ceremony attended by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se, despite Pyongyang repeatedly threatening “merciless punishment” against South Korea if the mission was launched.
South Korea urged the North to stop criticizing the new U.N. office after it suddenly announced it would boycott next month’s World University Games, also known as the Universade, in the southern city of Gwangju.
In a message emailed
to the Gwangju Universiade organizing committee last week, a North Korean sports official said the U.N. office in Seoul drove interKorean relations to “the extreme situation” and “cooled down our atmosphere to participate in the games.”
“Less than 50 miles from here lies another world marked by the utmost deprivation,” Hussein said in a statement to mark the opening, according to Yonhap news agency.
“Tens of thousands of Korean people have escaped that reality and through hazardous means reached a new life in (South Korea). But millions remain trapped in the grip of a totalitarian system which not only denies their freedom but increasingly their basic survival needs,” he added.
The United Nations proposed opening the field office following a searing report by a U.N. com- mission published in 2014 that concluded North Korea was committing human rights violations “without parallel in the contemporary world.”
of hundreds of North Korean exiles, the commission detailed a vast network of prison camps holding up to 120,000 people and documented cases of torture, summary executions and rape.
South Korean police officers stand guard by a signboard of the newly opened office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul, Tuesday, June 23.