A former senior North Korean official has warned President Donald Trump he cannot just focus on denuclearization but must also deal with Kim Jong Un’s human-rights abuses if there is any hope of achieving peace and stability.
The North Korean government is well known for its atrocities, which the United Nations and others have said are just as bad if not worse than those committed by the Nazis. And yet, at their historic summit last month, President Trump repeatedly praised Kim Jong Un as “tough” and made little mention of his regime’s dire human-rights record.
Jang Jin Sung said this was a mistake. “When people try to separate the nuclear issue from the human-rights issue, it’s not really possible because these things are both working toward the same cause. They both uphold a political system that prioritizes Kim in every aspect, ” he said when asked about the summit.
For Jang, North Korea’s human-rights abuses should be seen in the same way, a means to keep the population down and prevent any challenge domestically.”This is a system that needs bombs, this is a system that inherently and essentially commits crimes against humanity,” he said. “The only real, permanent solution, whether that’s on nuclear issues or human rights, is one that deals that with both. Unless you have political transformation, you won’t make any genuine progress on these issues.”
Jang served as poet laureate to Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il. Jang defected in 2004 after he read South Korean books, which he had access to because of his job, and realized the truth about his country. He is now a bestselling author living in South Korea. Jang is also a panelist for the Global Slavery Index, which released a report Wednesday saying North Korea was the worst country in the world for “modern slavery.”