North Korea seeks to forge alliance with Russia: official

November 21, 2014

Kim Jong-un asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to exert influence to help silence international debate on his country’s dismal human rights record, according to a South Korean official.

Vladimir Putin, left, and Kim Jong-un. (Korea Times file)

Vladimir Putin, left, and Kim Jong-un. (Korea Times file)

By Kim Kwang-tae

SEOUL (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has expressed hope of forging an alliance with Moscow as he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to exert influence to help silence international debate on his country’s dismal human rights record, a South Korean official said Friday.

The rare move represents Pyongyang’s desperate attempts to find a diplomatic exit amid growing international pressure over its human rights situation. A U.N. General Assembly committee has passed a resolution calling for the referral of North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for human rights violations.

Kim expressed hope that “the two countries will establish an alliance” and that “Russia will exert influence to ensure the human rights issue will not be raised at the United Nations and in the international community again,” the official said, citing the gist of a letter to Putin from Kim.

The official said South Korea obtained the gist of the letter delivered to the Russian leader through Kim’s special envoy, Choe Ryong-hae.

Choe met with Putin in Moscow on Tuesday in a trip that underscored Pyongyang’s attempts to reach out to Russia for diplomatic and other support amid strained relations with China.

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, a private security think tank near Seoul, said an alliance, if forged, will be a significant development that will bring about huge changes in the security landscape in Northeast Asia.

“It will rapidly undermine China’s political influence on North Korea while boosting Russia’s influence on the North,” Cheong said.

So far, Beijing is widely believed to have significant leverage over Pyongyang, which has long been dependent on Chinese diplomatic support and economic aid.

Kim expressed hope of quickly holding talks with Putin, according to the South Korean official, who is in a position to know about the gist of Kim’s letter to Putin. Kim has not met with any foreign leaders since 2011, when he took power upon the death of his father and long-time leader Kim Jong-il.

Kim also asked Putin to provide economic aid to North Korea and support North Korea in case the North pursues economic reform. North Korea has so far rejected international calls to embrace reforms.

Kim’s gesture came as the U.N. resolution could potentially pave the way for the referral of North Korea to the International Criminal Court to bring to justice to those responsible for crimes against humanity.

Also Friday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said international support and cooperation is vital to improve North Korea’s human rights conditions, noting that ordinary North Koreans are “facing hunger and a tragic human rights situation.”

She made the comments in a meeting with officials of the International Democrat Union, an international alliance of political parties.

Still, the chances of North Korea being referred to the ICC are slim because U.N. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, and the U.N. Security Council is unlikely to approve the resolution as China and Russia, two veto-wielding powers of the council’s five permanent members, are likely to veto it.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after meeting Choe in Moscow that the resolution is “counterproductive.”

North Korea has long been labeled one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The communist regime does not tolerate dissent, holds possibly as many as hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and keeps tight control over outside information.

Pyongyang has bristled at any talk of its human rights conditions, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: North Korea seeks to forge alliance with Russia: official – The Korea Times US | Amazing News

  2. pepper

    November 21, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Wow! 3million in jail or prison! That is a huge amount of the population incarcerated! Oh, wait, that’s the U.S. statistic. A few hundred thousand? Oh that’s not too bad.

    • Sunny

      November 22, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      Well, there’s a huge difference between jailed for serious crimes like Rape & Murder vs. being jailed for exercising one’s freedom of speech…

  3. Pingback: North Korea Seeks To Forge Alliance With Russia - The Liberty Eagle

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