North Korea Rejected Lefkowitz Visit to Kaesong; We Had to Hear It from the South Koreans

A few weeks ago, after Jay Lefkowitz, the Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, cancelled a visit to Kaesong, I speculated that the North Koreans felt free to just blow him off:  “One wonders whether the North Koreans, sensing how completely Lefkowitz has been marginalized in Washington, simply withdrew his permission to visit.”  And that turns about to be pretty much what happened:

“We understand the North has refused to register the application by the special envoy,” South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon said. [….]

Lefkowitz will be in South Korea next week and had asked to also visit the factory park. “I understand the North’s explanation is his visit to Kaesong wouldn’t be appropriate, “Kim said.

North Korea, in its official media, has called Lefkowitz’s views “impudent,” “rubbish” and “foolish.”

Bush and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met on Wednesday and said Pyongyang should improve its human rights record, described by groups as being among the world’s worst.

The rejection of Lefkowitz’s request comes amid signs of improving relations between Washington and Pyongyang. The two foes have drawn closer as they have worked to implement a six-country deal on ending the North’s nuclear arms program.  [Reuters]  

Does anyone remember Condi Rice’s strong statement of concern afterward?  As if.  Then again, it’s not as if South Koreans enjoy unimpeded access to Kaesong  these days.

1 Comment

  1. I fail to see what Leftkowitz’s purpose is any more? He has been marginalized by the US, ROK, and DPRK governments thus leaving him with virtually no purpose for his job.

    I have to wonder what he does all day to keep himself busy?

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