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North Korea’s Hateful Rants Continue to Get a Pass

1:13 PM, May 9, 2014 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
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The pursuit by successive U. S. administrations of the holy grail of North Korean denuclearization seems to have made Washington hesitant to overly criticize the Pyongyang regime. This was again made evident by the recent release of the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on North Korean human rights abuses—which COI Chairman Michael Kirby compared to that of the Nazis during the Second World War. But silence on North Korean human rights—with the notable exception of Congress, which passed the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004—has largely been the watchword in official Washington.

Kirby himself recently felt the sting of North Korean venom. After he presented the COI report’s findings to an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on April 17, KCNA replied on April 22: “As for Kirby, who took the lead in ‘cooking’ the report, he is a disgusting old lecher with a 40 year-odd-long-career of homosexuality. He is now over seventy, but he is still anxious to get married to his homosexual partner.” (Judge Kirby has made no secret of his sexual orientation.)

Again, where are the voices of protest? If Beverly Hills celebrities, like Jay Leno, are willing to stand outside a hotel owned by U.S. trade partner, the Sultan of Brunei, to protest the introduction of homophobic and misogynistic sharia law in his country, why are they not in front of the North Korean U.N. mission in New York?

And where is the official outcry when the leading elected woman in Asia is vilified for her gender and marital status? The report of the Special Rapporteur, prepared as a portion of the Platform for Action adopted by the 1995 U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, noted that “sexual harassment constitutes a form of sex discrimination. It not only degrades the woman but reinforces and reflects the idea of non-professionalism on the part of women workers, who are consequently regarded as less able to perform their duties than their male colleagues.” Isn’t Pyongyang blatantly violating U.N. gender principles in its repeated verbal attacks on President Park? So what does America’s U.N. Ambassador Samantha Powers have to say?

Kim Jong-un’s sexist rants against the South Korean president should not be tolerated nor should his racist taunts against the leader of the free world. And the world should not silently acquiesce in his demeaning treatment of North Korean women, who are among the world’s main victims of sexual trafficking, forced abortions, and human rights abuses.

Dennis P. Halpin was the U.S. Embassy/Beijing coordinator for the 1995 U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women. He is a former Asian advisor to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, and a consultant to the Poblete Analysis Group (PAG).

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