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President Obama on Human Rights in North Korea



In advance of President Obama’s March, 26 arrival in Seoul for the Nuclear Security Summit, South Koreans submitted questions via social media for President Obama. The President answered the following question from a North Korean refugee on the U.S. stance on North Korean human rights.

Mr. President, I am a North Korea refugee. As a person from North Korea, I would like to ask what should be done to draw more attention to the North Korean human rights issues in the international community, and what the top priority is in resolving North Korea issues.

The United States remains deeply concerned about the well-being of the North Korean people, the human rights situation in the DPRK and the plight of North Korean refugees. Your personal story of courage is remarkable and a testament to the possibility for North Koreans to lead lives in freedom and dignity.

The United States has led efforts around the globe to call attention to the human rights situation in North Korea. Improving human rights conditions is a top U.S. priority in our North Korea policy and it will have a significant impact on the prospect for closer U.S.-DPRK ties.

In the last year, the United States Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, Ambassador Robert King, traveled to Pyongyang and for the first time engaged directly with the North Korean government on human rights issues. We emphasized our concerns about North Korean human rights in all three of our recent bilateral meetings with the DPRK.

We will continue to support programs to increase freedom of information, promote human rights and rule of law, and lay the foundation for civil society in the DPRK. Meanwhile, the extraordinary progress that the Republic of Korea has accomplished in broadening prosperity and democracy for its citizens stands as a powerful contrast to the challenges in the North.

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