The North Korea ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva denounced its recommendations just as reports emerged that the North had executed the official responsible for a ruinous currency revaluation.
North Korea is spurning United Nations demands to stop public executions, torture of prisoners, and other endemic violations of human rights in the aftermath of the reported execution of the senior official responsible for disastrous economic reforms.
Ri Chol, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, on Thursday denounced the council’s recommendations as reflecting historic hostility toward the North’s long-ruling leadership. He issued his rejoinder in response to demands that also included calls to stop training children for military service and forcing citizens to perform hard labor against their will.
The verbal exchange came on the heels of the reported execution of Pak Nam-ki, the former chief of economic planning for the ruling Workers’ Party. A firing squad executed Mr. Pak last week in Pyongyang as punishment for harming the country's currency, according to Yonhap, the South Korean news agency. Mr. Pak vanished from public view after having been photographed with leader Kim Jong-il on a "field inspection" trip in early January.
A long-time party faithful, the 77-year-old Pak had clearly had the confidence of Kim Jong-il when North Korea sought to deal with mounting economic woes by lopping off the last two zeroes from its vastly inflated currency and setting a deadline for exchanging stacks of banknotes for new ones. Protests mounted as the old banknotes became worthless, depriving a rising middle class of much of its income, forcing the closure of markets, and finally compelling the regime into an unprecedented apology.