I’m a little late in noticing this article, but there’s some interesting backstory here. Original article in Korean is here.
On the 25th, and coming up on its 9th year of operation, the National Human Rights Commission (국가인권위원회) released a comment on North Korea’s artilllery attack.
The NHRC criticized North Korea’s artillery attack on Yeonpyeong-do, saying, “this attack was an inhumane act that harmed the prospects for a North-South agreement and violated inter-Korean agreements and international regulations including the UN Charter.”
The NHRC added, “we call on international society, including the UN and human rights organizations, to work together to condemn North Korea’s actions in violation of human rights and for UN peace in North Korea.”
The NHRC said, “we cannot overlook its violations of the right to live, which must respected to the utmost, and we call on international society and our country, as members of the UN and if international human rights covenants, to recognize their responsibilities.”
The NHRC has recently been embarrassed by calls from human rights organizations and Rep. Jeon Hyeon-jik for the resignation of Chairman Hyeon Byeong-cheol over his self-righteousness and appointment of conservative members.
Human rights activists have been sarcastically referring to the NHRC as the “North Korean human rights commission” and “controlled human rights commision” because they see it as toeing the government line and not taking a clear position on domestic human rights issues such as illegal personal investigations and the Yongsan fire tragedy.
An “emergency committee of human rights and citizens’ organizations for the resignation of Chairman Hyeon Byeong-cheol” held a debate at 2 pm on the 25th, ahead of the 9th anniversary of the NHRC, with scholars and human rights organization representatives. They used the debate to evaluate the NHRC under the Lee Myung-bak administration, which is now in its third year, and reforms of the NHRC and controversial points of human rights policy.
From 7:30 that night a candlelight vigil was held in front of the NHRC, beginning a two-night sit-in seeking the resignation of Chairman Hyeon.
I don’t really get the circular firing-squad strategy of the liberal groups here. Instead of going after your normal ally the NHRC for being unduly influenced by the president, why not go directly after the president? That way you send a far less muddled message to the average Korean, who probably doesn’t pay as much attention to politics as you do.