Seoul Shies Away from UN Human Rights Office for N.Korea

Seoul has apparently decided not to host a UN field office that will be set up in Asia to call North Korean officials involved in crimes against humanity to account.

A diplomatic source in Seoul on Monday said, "It's important to seek to improve the human rights situation in the North, but it seems that Seoul has given priority to a moratorium on mutual vilification and provocations."

Last month, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for an office under the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor and record human rights abuses in the North.

Originally the UNHRC wanted to set up a small field office in South Korea with a staff of about five whose main job it will be to question North Korean defectors. But Seoul apparently decided against it for fear of agitating Pyongyang and hampering humanitarian projects like the reunions of families separated by the Korean War.

Instead, the office will probably be set up in Bangkok, which hosts the regional UN commission.

Critics say the government should not repeat the mistake of previous governments that abstained from voting on UN resolutions on the North Korean human rights for the sake of cross-border relations but failed to improve the human rights situation in the North.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 08, 2014 10:11 KST