An effort to address North Korea's human rights situation would be a clear signal of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's seriousness to dismantle the country's nuclear weapons program, a former CIA analyst said on Oct. 29, 2018.
Jung Pak, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, made the remark at a forum in Washington on the human rights challenges in negotiations with the North.
She identified "human rights violations" and the nuclear weapons programs as the "two pillars" of the Kim regime.
"So to just look at the (weapons of mass destruction) program without looking at the second pillar that reinforces the weapons program, I think, would be shooting ourselves in the foot before we even get out of the game," Pak said.
She added it would be "misguided" to avoid the subject of human rights with the North out of fear of offending Kim and derailing denuclearization negotiations that resumed months ago.
"Kim is not a bubble boy," she said. "To be really able to test their intention, you are going to have to make it a little difficult."
And "any effort" to address the widely reported human rights abuses by the regime "would show that Kim is really serious."
The North has long been accused of gross human rights violations, including torture, public executions and keeping an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners.
Last week the United Nations special rapporteur on North Korea's human rights said the situation has not changed despite the regime's diplomatic engagements with South Korea and the U.S.
Tomas Ojea Quintana said the issue should not be sidelined in nuclear negotiations with the North.
"Together (with) their important initiatives of engaging the South Korean government and the U.S. government and some others, it is the time for North Korea to show commitment to the human rights agenda some way or another," the rapporteur said. "We have seen nothing from North Korea in this respect."
The two Koreas have held three summits this year, while the U.S. and North Korea held an unprecedented summit in Singapore in June. The talks focused on dismantling the regime's nuclear weapons program and reducing tensions between the sides.
A second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim is expected to be held early next year.
Meanwhile, the European Union and Japan have been leading the drafting of a new U.N. resolution condemning the abuses. It is expected to be adopted by the General Assembly in December for the 14th straight year. (Yonhap)