January 25, 2023 13:15
U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday nominated a new special envoy for North Korean human rights issues after the post has been vacant for six years.
Julie Turner currently heads the Office of East Asia and the Pacific in the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
The nomination sends a strong warning to the North Korean regime that its human rights abuses will get almost as much scrutiny as its nuclear weapons and missiles.
The White House said Biden has sent the nomination to the Senate for confirmation. It is likely to sail through since both the Democratic and Republican parties have urged Biden to nominate a candidate for the post as soon as possible.
According to the White House, Turner has served more than 16 years in the office "in positions of increasing responsibility, primarily focused on initiatives related to promoting human rights in North Korea."
She earned a B.A. from Pepperdine University and an M.A. from the University of Maryland at College Park. She speaks French and Korean.
The post was established by the North Korean Human Rights Act in October 2004. During the Barack Obama administration, it was held by Robert King, but since then the post has been vacant as Obama's successor Donald Trump sought to cozy up to the North Korean regime.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry applauded the decision. "We welcome the U.S. government's nomination of a special envoy for North Korean human rights and looks forward to an early start of the mission," it said in a statement. "We will cooperate with the U.S. further for the improvement of North Korea's human rights situation."
The South Korean government has already appointed Lee Shin-wha, a professor at Korea University, as ambassador-at-large on North Korean human rights, a post that had been vacant for five years.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com