Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj stunned North Korean elite students at Kim Il-sung University when he visited Pyongyang last month by telling them, “No tyranny lasts forever.”
According to a transcript of the speech posted on the Mongolian presidential website on Friday, Elbegdorj told the students, “It is the desire of the people to live free that is the eternal power. … Freedom enables every human to discover and realize his or her opportunities and chances for development. This leads a human society to progress and prosperity.”
Elbegdorj told the students, “Mongolia holds dear the fundamental human rights — freedom of expression, right to assembly and the right to live by his or her own choice… Mongols say, ‘better to live by your own choice however bitter it is, than to live by other’s choice, however sweet.'”
He also hinted that the North Korean regime should abandon its nuclear ambitions. “Twenty-one years ago, Mongolia declared herself a nuclear-weapon-free zone,” he said.
He also pointed out that Mongolia scrapped capital punishment in 2009. North Korea still holds public executions.
The Mongolian presidential office said Elbegdorj offered to take questions after his speech but none were asked, although he received “lengthy applause.”
Elbegdorj is a former journalist who founded Mongolia’s top privately-owned newspaper, Ardchilal, in 1990. That same year he played a pivotal role in democratic protests ending communist rule in his country. He became a lawmaker and, in May 2009, Mongolia’s fifth president.
Contrary to expectations, Elbegdorj did not meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his trip from Oct. 28 and 31, and the publication of the speech prompts speculation that his remarks sent Kim Jong-Un into a sulk.