09:14 28 January 2017
N. Korea urges repatriation of citizens in South who want return
NEW YORK, Jan. 27, Kyodo
North Korea wants U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to help some of its citizens whom it claims are being held against their will in South Korea to go home, according to a letter obtained by Kyodo News on Friday.
In the letter to the U.N. chief, Ambassador Ja Song Nam cited the case of Kim Ryon Hui, who left North Korea in 2011 to seek medical treatment in China and now claims to be trapped in South Korea.
"I would like to take this opportunity to urge for an appropriate action by your office for an immediate repatriation of Kim Ryon Hui," Ja said in the letter.
He branded Kim's case as an example of "the enticed group abduction" of the North's nationals by authorities in the South.
Kim claimed she was convinced to seek out short-term employment in South Korea to help pay the costs of the medical treatment she received in China, according to media reports.
Kim told Kyodo News in a 2015 interview in South Korea that she had made a mistake and was now without a passport, having been required to turn it over, and is unable to leave the country.
In his letter, Ja claims that such acts constitute a "crime against humanity" and "will be a touchstone testing the true stand of the U.N. for the promotion and protection of human rights."
North Korean Counsellor Ri Song Chol told Kyodo that a previous letter last May to then U.N. chief Ban Ki Moon, whom Guterres replaced in January, went unanswered.
"This is a real human rights violation case but they (the United Nations) do not touch this issue," Ri said. "We have high expectations for the secretary general to solve this issue as an urgent and emergency human rights issue."
The United Nations has confirmed receipt of the letter but did not offer any further details.
North Korea's human rights record was the focus of discussion in the U.N. Security Council for the third year in a row last December.
The U.N. General Assembly also adopted last month a Japan- and European Union-led resolution rebuking the North for its continued rights abuses for the 12th year in a row.