South delays launch of NK human rights foundation
It appears the establishment of a North Korean human rights foundation affiliated with the Unification Ministry, which has been delayed for almost two years, will take more time.
The government on Thursday said it has decided to end an office rental contract for the foundation. The Unification Ministry said it is terminating the contract this month due to rental expenditures amid the delay of establishing the foundation.
The ministry denied that this had anything to do with the current situation concerning North Korea and affirmed that policies to improve the human rights situation in the North would remain unchanged, and that it would seek to establish the foundation at the earliest possible date.
“It is an administrative measure intended to prevent financial losses,” a unification ministry official told reporters. “I believe the delay in the start of the foundation is due to lawmakers not reaching a consensus on recommendations about board members,” he said.
The ministry had been funding 6.3 million won ($581 million) in monthly rental expenses for the office in Mapo-gu, Seoul, since October 2016. The government has sought to establish the foundation since laws on North Korean human rights went into effect in September 2016.
The unification ministry has spent a total of 1.3 billion won in rental fees and must shoulder additional costs of around 200 million won in contract cancellation charges and costs to put the office back in its original state.