North Korean Delegate Says More Human Rights Violations Took Place in US Than in Communist Regime While Disrupting UN Event Showcasing Testimonies of Defectors

Coast Guard officers check a boat on the East River next to the United Nations complex before a General Assembly meeting in New York, Sept. 12, 2002. | (Photo: Reuters/Chip East)

NEW YORK — A representative of North Korea's Communist regime disrupted the United Nations' "Human Rights in the DPRK" hearing with an anti-U.S. rant in an attempt to discredit North Korean defectors' testimonies given before the committee on Thursday.

Organized by the United States and South Korea, the hearing at U.N. headquarters in New York City was moderated by award-winning author Barbara Demick and featured the testimonies of three North Korean defectors who shed light on the atrocities they endured before gaining asylum in various other countries.

Following Joseph Kim's opening description of early life in North Korea, including losing his father to starvation and his own narrow escape from the same fate, a diplomat from North Korea's U.N. mission interjected with a tirade directed at both the defectors and the U.S.

Speaking mostly in Korean, Jay Jo, the delegate from the Kim Jong Un-led Communist nation attempted to speak over the panel of defectors, denouncing their accounts of human rights abuses in the DPRK.

At one point, the DPRK delegate suggested that more human rights violations took place in the U.S. rather than in North Korea. Minutes into the interruption, the diplomat was silenced with threats of forced removal by U.N. security.

Shortly after resuming the event with the testimony of a second defector, the DPRK delegate and his companion stormed out of the conference room. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power later apologized for the North Korean's interruption, deeming his statements "totally self-discrediting."

Power also closed the "Human Rights in the DPRK" hearing with three themes from the defectors' stories: starvation, torture, and forced repatriation.

"These are just a few stories of millions," Power noted, before urging the public to view the situation in North Korea as a not only a human rights issue but also an issue of international peace and security.

"We must ensure that their voices, and the voices of other defectors, are amplified here at the U.N., at the Security Council and well beyond," she added. "We must not be satisfied with telling the stories, but we have to collectively continue to ramp up the pressure on this regime so that this system, the system built to strip people of their most basic rights and dignity, comes to an end, and the perpetrators behind the kind of terror and forced starvation that we've heard about, are brought finally to account."

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