FM Focuses on Former Sex Slaves in UN Speech

  • By Ahn Jun-yong

    February 27, 2018 13:08

    Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in a speech at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday said the government "humbly" accepts that a deal with Japan indirectly compensating Korean women forced into sexual slavery by imperial Japan "lacked a victim-centered approach."

    It was the first time that the government formally admitted on the international stage that the negotiations with Tokyo were badly mishandled by the previous Park Geun-hye administration.

    Kang said the victims of Japan's drafting of sex slaves for the military in World War II were "still striving to restore their dignity and honor" and called for a "victim-centered approach" to the issue.

    "My government will take steps to help heal their scars and restore their dignity and honor," she added, stressing that it is crucial to let the young generation learn about past mistakes to ensure that they are not repeated.

    Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday. /Courtesy of the Foreign Ministry

    But on human rights in North Korea, Kang opted for a milder approach. "North Korea must heed the call of the international community and abandon its nuclear and missile programs. It should invest more of its resources in its people and the protection and promotion of their human rights," she said.

    The reference to North Korean human rights was conspicuously shorter compared to a similar speech last year as the government is keen to continue dialogue with North Korea triggered by the North's participation in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

    Last year, then Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said North Korea "has turned into a massive gulag with unrelenting surveillance."

    One diplomatic source said, "It was the first time the Moon Jae-in administration has voiced its official stance on North Korea's human rights situation on the international stage, and there was a big difference to the direction being taken now by the international community."

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