Parents of dead American hostage urge human rights pressure on North Korea

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2019   •   272

(FILE) Fred and Cindy Warmbier, parents of Otto Warmbier a US citizen who died last year, days after his release from captivity in North Korea, speak at the 10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, at the International Conference Center Geneva (CICG) in Geneva, Switzerland, 20 February 2018. EPA-EFE/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

The parents of American student Otto Warmbier, who died after he was released from nearly 18 months of North Korean captivity in a state of coma, urged on the South’s government Friday to pressure Pyongyang over its alleged human rights abuses.

At a press conference in Seoul organized by the Korean War Abductees’ Family Union, Fred and Cindy Warmbier called on the international community that they should not use denuclearization dialogue as an excuse to ignore such alleged crimes by North Korea.

“That’s like saying it’s OK to murder people as long as you don’t murder us,” Cindy Warmbier said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

The United Nations considers North Korea as one of the world’s biggest human rights violators. The regime, led by Kim Jong-un, allegedly does not tolerate dissent, holds thousands of people in political prison camps and strictly controls the flow of external information.

The Warmbiers have repeatedly demanded North Korea be legally held responsible for the death of their son, and have been seeking international support to hold the country accountable for violating international sanctions.

“If you force North Korea to engage the world from a legal standpoint, they will ultimately have to have dialogue,” Fred said.

Their son was detained in North Korea after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster when he visited Pyongyang in Dec. 2015.

The 23-year-old died a few days after he was repatriated to the US in a state of coma. North Korea denied any responsibility for his death.

Fred and Cindy were on Saturday expected to visit the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas and return to the US the following day. EFE-EPA

asb-mra/tk-sc/ssk

Kim Jong Un says North Korea prevented coronavirus from making inroads

UNTV News   •   July 3, 2020

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party the North had stopped the novel coronavirus from making inroads in the country, state news agency KCNA said on Friday (July 3).

“We have thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus and maintained a stable anti-epidemic situation despite the worldwide health crisis, which is a shining success achieved,” Kim Jong Un said in a statement carried by KCNA.

He warned against self-complacency or relaxation in the anti-epidemic effort and urged North Koreans to maintain “maximum alert,” KCNA said in a statement.

While the reclusive country has not confirmed any infections, its public health ministry has reported all 922 people checked so far have tested negative. Hundreds of people, mostly cargo handlers at seaports and land borders, are regularly quarantined for monitoring.

A politburo meeting on Thursday (July 2) also touched on the construction of the Pyongyang General Hospital, underway in the capital. Kim expressed satisfaction with the project and thanked the builders for making headway under unfavorable conditions. (Reuters)

(Production: Hyunyoung Yi)

North Korea suspends military action plans against South Korea – KCNA

UNTV News   •   June 24, 2020

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has presided over a meeting of the ruling party’s Central Military Commission and decided to suspend military action plans against South Korea, the official KCNA news agency reported on Wednesday (June 24).

The video conference meeting on Tuesday (June 23) also discussed documents outlining measures for “further bolstering the war deterrent of the country,” KCNA reported.

The committee members “took stock of the prevailing situation” before deciding to suspend the military plans, the report said, without elaborating.

Political tensions between the rival Koreas have been rising over Pyongyang’s objections to plans by defector-led groups in the South to fly propaganda leaflets over to the North. (Reuters)

(Production: Chaeyoun Won, Hyunyoung Yi)

North Korea rejects South’s offer of envoys, vows to redeploy troops to border

UNTV News   •   June 18, 2020

A view of an explosion of a joint liaison office with South Korea in border town Kaesong.

North Korea said on Wednesday (June 17) it had rejected South Korea’s offer to send special envoys to ease escalating bilateral tensions, and vowed to redeploy troops to demilitarized border units in the latest step towards nullifying inter-Korean peace accords.

The announcements made by state media agency KCNA came one day after North Korea blew up a joint liaison office set up in a border town as part of a 2018 agreement by the two countries’ leaders, as tensions flare over propaganda leaflets sent by defectors into the reclusive state.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Monday (June 15) offered to send his national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and spy chief Suh Hoon as special envoys. But Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a senior ruling party official, “flatly rejected the tactless and sinister proposal,” KCNA said.

In a separate KCNA dispatch on Wednesday, a spokesman for the General Staff of the (North) Korean People’s Army (KPA) said it would dispatch troops to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong near the border, where the two Koreas had carried out joint economic projects in the past. (Reuters)

(Production: Dogyun Kim, Chaeyoun Won, Minwoo Park)

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