A U.S. envoy says that the human rights situation in North Korea must improve before the country can normalize relations with the United States. President Barack Obama’s special envoy on North Korean human rights Robert King is visiting South Korea this week to discuss the issue with government officials.
King said of North Korea, ”It’s one of the worst places in terms of lack of human rights. The situation is appalling.” He also said that the situation is preventing the normalization of ties between Washington and Pyongyang. King said, ”Improved relations between the United States and North Korea will have to involve greater respect for human rights by North Korea.” [AP, via N.Y. Times]
This is a good start — and a measurable improvement from where Chris Hill was taking us — but the lesson of the Bush Administration is that rhetoric is no substitute for action on practical, concrete proposals. Compliance with the North Korean Human Rights Act and Reauthorization Act (see sidebar) would be a good first step.