Traditionally a party which has avoided strong condemnation of North Korea at the government level, a Democratic Party lawmaker unexpectedly put forward a resolution yesterday pushing for North Korean human rights improvements alongside more predictable inter-Korean cooperation.
Song Min Soon, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Roh Moo Hyun administration, used the resolution to urge the new leadership of North Korea to take the line of change, become a member of the international community in good standing through reform and opening, stop acting as an obstacle to world peace by developing long range missiles and nuclear weapons, and implement the existing Six-Party Talks agreements.
The resolution also demands that the North Korean authorities do their best to improve human rights in all fields; civil, political, economic, societal and cultural.
Additionally, it asks the South Korean administration to provide North Korean citizens with food and other humanitarian aid, while simultaneously demanding that the North Korean authorities improve the transparency of aid distribution.
The resolution further states that related countries must stop forcefully repatriating refugees and that the North and South Korean authorities should cooperate unconditionally on issues of POWs and abductees, in addition to holding regular reunion events for separated families.
Speaking about the resolution, Song told The Daily NK today, “This comprehensive resolution is significant for its role in improving North Korea’s human rights problems, advocating transparency of food distribution, because food aid to North Korea has been troubled by a lack of transparency, and expanding exchanges and cooperation between North and South.”
He also explained the background to his decision to sponsor the resolution, saying, “The third generation succession which has been carried out recently is a regressive act which cannot be found in any modern country,” and added, “We need to lead the new leadership to adopt the line of reform, opening and renovation and take the path of improving human rights and inter-Korean cooperation.”
However, Song said he still opposes the North Korean human rights law, which was suggested by Hwang Woo Yea and other Grand National Party lawmakers but remains stuck in the legislative process, saying, “Some insist on having the North Korean Human Rights Law, but it cannot be implemented within North Korea. In reality, it cannot demonstrate its effectiveness in North Korea. If the human rights law is enacted, the South Korean administration will not be able to give food aid to North Korea with flexibility. Therefore, it would be better to express our will in the name of the National Assembly than by law.”
Asked whether his resolution was the official Democratic Party stance, Song added, “This has been done by me privately, not by the party’s will,” but also said, “I believe they probably do not think differently about it in the party.”