South de­lays launch of NK hu­man rights foun­da­tion

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Kim Bo-eun bkim@ko­re­

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.

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