The U.S. State Department envoy for North Korean human rights, Robert King, who arrived in South Korea on the 9th, met with South Korean government officials this morning to exchange views on North Korean human rights, among other issues.
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT), King met with Lim Sung Nam, South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, this morning. He then met with MOFAT official Kim Su Kwon to discuss bilateral cooperation on the problem of forced repatriations and North Korean human rights.
Notably, King is also expected to meet with heads of North Korean human rights NGOs and defector groups. At the meeting, he is likely to hear calls for cooperation from the U.S. government to release Kim Young Hwan, the North Korean human rights activist currently detained in China.
The Committee for the Release of North Korea Human Rights Activist Kim Young Hwan has requested a separate meeting with King, but has not received an answer. The release Committee revealed, “We heard negative comments from the U.S. Embassy regarding a separate meeting with special envoy King related to Kim Young Hwan. Then, a separate request was sent but there has been no answer so far.”
Currently, the effort to secure Kim’s release is being led by domestic NGOs and the South Korean government, but China has not allowed even one interview with a lawyer. As such, it is assumed that U.S. intervention is one of the few things that might change China’s stance.
On this, a MOFAT official commented, “Those South Korean government officials involved in the issue can ask Special Envoy King to take more interest, but it would be rather hard to make it a main agenda item or ask them to step up and take action.”
Meanwhile, while in Japan prior to arriving in the South, King said that the U.S. is not currently considering offering food aid to North Korea.