This is significant not least because the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRC) looked the other way when confronted with North Korean human rights issues during the last two administrations.
An NHRC spokesperson revealed the reason why it selected NKnet at this morning’s Human Rights Awards ceremony, “NKnet has founded an online newspaper on North Korea, The Daily NK, and consistently launches campaigns, forums and international conferences on North Korean human rights in order to release the reality of North Korea to the world and contribute to the advancement of defector human rights by supporting defectors’ organizations.”
In his speech at the ceremony, NHRC Chairman Hyun Byung Chul selected the North Korean human rights issue as one of the key human rights problems that Korea is facing and must solve, along with the advancement of children and the rights of old people, prevention of discrimination against social minorities and the practical guarantee of basic freedoms.
President of the Korean Bar Association Kim Pyong Woo also gave a congratulatory address, in which he pointed out, “There are many problems created by discrimination, prejudice, alienation and exclusion, but several NGOs and the administration are working on them. Therefore, they can be improved or solved. However, the most serious problem is the one thing that we have not all yet become aware of and cannot throw away our prejudices against. That is the problem of the North Korean people and defectors’ human rights.”
NKnet President Han Ki Hong told reporters after the ceremony, “I think NKnet won this prize on the behalf of all the other NGOs which are also working for the advancement of North Korean human rights. I hope all the people in the South can make a concerted effort to improve the North’s terrible human rights situation.”
Meanwhile, in front of the Seoul Press Center where the ceremony was held, around ten members of Seoul Unification Solidarity gathered to demonstrate against NKnet under the title, “Objection to an anti-North Korea organization winning the Human Rights Award.”