North Korea Backing Down?
“The days when North Korea could create a crisis and elicit concessions, those days are over,” said President Barack Obama Tuesday, May 7, after a meeting between himself and South Korean President Park Geun-hye. It was Park’s first trip to the United States in her only recently begun presidency.
Also on Tuesday came the news that North Korea pulled their missiles back from their eastern coast, roughly a month after having first positioned them there in a bit of military posturing intended to threaten South Korea, the United States, and other nations standing in opposition to Kim Jong-un (http://papyrus.greenville.edu/2013/04/north-korea-situation-continues-to-escalate/). BBC News cites Pentagon spokesman George Little as saying that that the actions North Korea has been taking lately can be seen as a “provocation pause.”
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said that it seems as though Kim Jong-un and his officials in Pyongyang have come down from their military’s high alert status. President Park Geun-hye emphasized that the only way to make sure North Korea changes is to make it very clear that the world as a whole wants them to. “Instead of just hoping to see North Korea change, the international community must consistently send the message with one voice, to tell them and communicate to them that they have no choice but to change,” she said (AP).
Additionally, the UN has now named the investigators who will be looking into alleged human rights abuses in North Korea. Human rights activist Sonja Biserko and UN rapporteur Marzuki Darusman, who has been looking into rights abuses in North Korea for a while now already, will be a part of the team. They will be led by former Australian High Court justice Michael Kirby in examining reports of terrible rights abuses, including prison camps where torture and food deprivation are common occurrences. The trio will investigate for just under a year, reporting back to the United Nations in March. BBC News says that it’s unlikely the investigators will actually get access to North Korea, with Kim Jong-un’s government earlier calling the investigation a “political ploy,” and that they will instead rely on defector testimonies and satellite imagery.
Michael Kirby made it clear that North Korea will be given due process, but that the trio of investigators will be working with “complete independence.” “I certainly want to try to engage with North Korea so that we can get the best and most reliable material and report that to the United Nations which, after all, is the eyes and ears of the world” (BBC News).