In the News – Lee calls for int’l attention on N. Korean gulags
SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak called for greater international attention on political prison camps in North Korea, saying Friday that they are the worst gulags in the world and global human rights groups should be allowed to visit there.
Lee made the remark during a meeting with a group of visiting U.S. lawmakers.
The five Republican congressmen, including Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Richard Burr of North Carolina, arrived in Seoul earlier in the day for a three-day visit that also includes talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and a visit to the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas.
“There is no place like political prison camps in North Korea around the globe,” Lee was quoted as saying during the meeting by presidential spokeswoman Lee Mi-yon, referring to massive human rights violations believed to be happening at those facilities. “International human rights groups should visit there.”
Burr said he shares South Korea’s concern about North Korea issues and pledged to back whatever decision is made under Lee’s leadership. The lawmaker also said he will have a first-hand look at the division of the Korean Peninsula during a trip to DMZ, according to the spokeswoman.
Lee expressed gratitude that the U.S. Congress is interested not only in the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear programs, but also in the communist nation’s human rights situation, and asked for deeper attention to the issue, she said.
The lawmakers said they have all supported the free trade agreement between the two countries from early on while Lee said that the landmark pact will be able to be implemented in a mutually satisfactory manner, the spokeswoman said.
The presidential office also said in a separate statement that Lee and the lawmakers agreed that the international community should give a unified response to North Korea’s planned rocket launch as it clearly violates a U.N. resolution.
North Korea is expected to put its Unha-3 long-range rocket on a launch pad as early as Friday or Saturday, according to news reports citing government sources. Pyongyang said it will fire the rocket between April 12 and 16 to carry what it claims is a satellite into orbit.
However, the U.S. and regional powers believe the launch is aimed at testing the North’s ballistic missile technology.