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(LEAD) S. Korea discusses policy blueprint to improve N. Korea's human rights situation

11:29 December 09, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS info on human rights report in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's vice unification minister said Friday the government plans to map out a three-year blueprint to improve North Korea's human rights situation by taking into account its policy stance and the North's rights conditions.

Vice Unification Minister Kim Ki-woong made the remarks at an interagency meeting on North Korea's human rights situation to discuss ways to establish the Yoon Suk-yeol administration's first basic policy plan to enhance the North's rights conditions.

"We expect the establishment of the envisioned basic plan will help (the government) systemically pursue its policy (on the North's human rights) in a bid to improve the quality of North Korean people's lives and their human rights," Kim said.

He said the government will comprehensively take into account the universal value of human rights, the Yoon government's policy stance and rights situations in North Korea.

Under the North Korean Human Rights Act, which passed the National Assembly in 2016, the government should establish a basic plan to enhance the North's human rights situations every three years in a bid to outline its policy goals on the rights issues and help improve the North's rights conditions.

The latest meeting marked the second of its kind after the conservative Yoon government resumed such a gathering in August for the first time in more than two years in line with its proactive stance in dealing with the North's rights issues.

South Korea co-sponsored a U.N. draft resolution condemning North Korea's human rights conditions this year, in a shift from a low-key approach for four years under the preceding liberal Moon Jae-in government.

Next year, the ministry will also make public its annual report on the human rights situation in North Korea for the first time in six years.

"We plan to release a report on the status of North Korean human rights in the form of a white paper to help our citizens better understand the overall rights situation in the North," the ministry's deputy spokesperson, Lee Hyo-jung, said at a regular press briefing.

The paper will be released as early as next March, she added.

Since 2017, the ministry has not opened its annual North Korea Human Rights Report to the public, citing the risk that personal information of defectors could be leaked.

Vice Unification Minister Kim Ki-woong speaks at an interagency government meeting on North Korea's human rights in Seoul on Dec. 9, 2022. (Yonhap)


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