Open Radio for North Korea’s head of international affairs, Kwon Eun Kyoung, recently received “Korea’s Human Rights Award,” presented by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea in Seoul, becoming the fourth activist for North Korean human rights to receive the prestigious award.
The commission held a commemorative ceremony on December 10th for the 66th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and presented ten individuals and five groups with the award.
Kwon was selected for her contribution to establishing the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea and providing support in the body’s research, using mechanisms within the U.N. to improve the rights of North Koreans.
“Korea’s Human Rights Award” is presented to groups and individuals who have contributed to furthering human rights both domestically and internationally. Recipients among activists for North Korea so far have been Yoon Hyun, founder and chairman of Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights in 2010; Rep. Ha Tae Kyung of the ruling Saenuri Party [head of Open Radio for North Korea at the time of receiving the award] in 2011; and Kim Young Hwan, senior researcher at Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights [NKnet] in 2012.
In the group category, NKnet was presented with the award in 2009.
“The fact that referring the issue of human rights in North Korea to the International Criminal Court [ICC] was included in the human rights draft resolution shows that the international community has a shared understanding about the problems in the North,” this year’s recipient, Kwon, told the Daily NK. “In order to get the case to the ICC, now is where things really begin. I will carry a lot of different activities to realize this [goal].”
“It’s almost certain that the UN General Assembly will adopt the resolution, but here in Korea’s parliament everyone is caught up in political strife and can’t even get the North Korean Human Rights bill passed,” Kwon said. “Last month, when the UN Third Committee passed the draft resolution, [lawmakers] made a fuss as if they were going to pass the bill here by the end of this year. But now, they’re all quiet, like it never happened,” she said, criticizing the South Korean National Assembly.
President Park Geun Hye delivered a video message at the event, wherein she said, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a beautiful promise made by mankind to ensure humans universally can rightly so live like human beings.”
“The human rights conditions our fellow North Koreans face are so poor that it’s beyond explanation,” the president also said, adding “Please all work together so that everyone living on the Korean Peninsula can have their dignity and life respected and so that they can lead a happy life, which will ultimately lead to a happy country.”