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Opposition chief vows to draft bill on N. Korea’s human rights

Opposition chief vows to draft bill on N. Korea’s human rights

Updated January. 14, 2014 05:58

한국어

The chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party said on Monday, “We will draft a bill on ‘North Korea’s human rights and livelihoods’ at the party level to help improve human rights and people’s livelihood in the North.”

In his New Year’s press conference, Kim Han-gil made the remarks, saying, “The Democratic Party considers democracy and human rights as the supreme value, is also facing issues such as North Korea’s human rights squarely.” It is the first time that the Democratic Party leader, who has been wary of possible offending of the North’s leadership, has mentioned the need to enact law on North Korea’s human rights.

“We express anger on issues that are lamentable and regret for matters that are deplorable regarding human rights in the North,” Kim said, stressing, “It is our commitment to continuously pay attention to the areas that we can help improve human rights situation in the North.” A key source in the party said, “It is our plan to prepare for the possibility that the ruling party will beef up the bid to frame (our party) to be pro-North Korean at the June 4 local elections.”

The Democratic Party already submitted five bills related to human rights in the North, including a bill on improvement of North Koreans’ human rights (Rep. Shim Jae-kwon), and a bill on people’s livelihoods and human rights in North Korea (Rep. Yoon Hoo-deok). These bills are mostly designed to focus on humanitarian assistance to the North. Attention is focusing on how the party will coordinate the contents of the bills with the North Korean human rights bill that is being pursued by the ruling Saenuri Party at the extra session of the National Assembly in February.

Kim hinted that his party could change the "sunshine policy" of engaging the North, which constituted the identity of the former Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moon-hyun administrations. He presented as the party’s direction "North Korea policy geared toward national unity." “When the sunshine policy was devised, there is no premise that the North is armed with nuclear weapons. Hence, change is inevitable,” Kim said, adding, “The Democratic Party’s North Korea policy should no longer be an excuse for division of public opinion (in South Korea). It means that while our policy must be based on sunshine policy, we should reflect changes in situation in the policy.”

On the June 4 local elections, Kim said, “We will strive to achieve political innovation that overcomes outdated way of thinking and practice with a strong commitment to ‘re-establish our party’,” in expressing his determination to achieve election victory. He stressed, “We will field the most competitive candidates from in and outside the party in all constituencies in the country, including the Jeolla provinces, through bottom up nomination and reformative nomination of candidates.”

Kim Kwan-young, chief spokesman of the party, told a press briefing that “the chairman expressed his commitment that the party could replace all of its candidates in the entire country including the Jeolla provinces,” adding, “The party has never discussed the so-called ‘strategy to deploy veteran politicians’ as its candidates to run (at key constituencies).”

As for independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo, who is stepping up drive to establish a new party, Kim defined as "relationship of partner in competition," and went on to forecast competition for innovation, saying “If reshuffle is required for the opposition camp, the Democratic Party will take the lead and spearhead.” He then said, “By overcoming the factionalism within us, I will exert all-out efforts to ensure unity of the Democratic Party,” in making it clear to dispel factional conflict in the party.