The government of North Korea has once again threatened to attack a proposed United Nations field office planned to be built in Seoul that specializes in monitoring human rights abuses perpetrated by the Kim Jong Un regime.
The government published an article in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) warning against the site, which would use its resources exclusively to investigate human rights violations in North Korea. “As soon as the nest for an anti-DPRK (North Korea) smear campaign is in place in the South, it will immediately become the target for our merciless punishment,” the article warned, calling the office an “unforgivable provocation.”
The message also accused South Korea of the “heinous crime” of inspiring South Koreans to be more aware of the human rights violations of the North Korean communist regime.
The statement echoes similar sentiments published in KCNA when the office proposal was first announced in May 2014. Then, the government of Pyongyang called the office a “hideous politically-motivated provocation insulting and mocking at the dignity of the DPRK and its people,” as well as a “farce” intended to distract South Koreans from the Sewol ferry disaster.
The United Nations announced its interest in establishing a Seoul human rights office in May, stating that the UN locale would be an “important location to groups of victims [of human rights abuses] and civil society organisation focusing on human rights issues happening in North Korea.” That announcement followed the release early that year of an extensive UN report detailing the human rights abuses prevalent in North Korea, including the establishment of labor camps holding thousands captive, a significant lack of food that has killed thousands of others, and strict oppression of free speech and religion.
The United Nations also noted that the crimes could amount to a case against Kim Jong Un at the International Criminal Court.
In addition to the Seoul human rights office, the government of South Korea announced this month their hopes to begin constructing a “peace park” in the Koreas’ “demilitarized zone.” The “international peace park,” said head of the South Korean National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee Na Kyung-won, would serve to literally de-militarize the no-man’s-land in between the two Koreas. North Korea did not react favorably to this proposal.
South Korea is also facing a diplomatic situation regarding two of its citizens recently arrested by the North near the border. The nation confirmed this week that two men arrested for alleged “espionage” by the North Korean regime are, indeed, South Korean citizens. Far from being spies, however, South Korea claims at least one of the men is a Christian pastor working with refugees on the border of China. 60-year-old Kim Guk-gi is a Presbyterian pastor, his Church confirmed, who worked to bring basic goods to North Korean refugees near the border. The other man arrested has yet to be identified.