SEOUL — The United Nations’ human rights chief declared recently that it was time for a “long overdue” investigation into what she called unparalleled rights abuses in North Korea. The probe, unprecedented in scope, could help establish whether the North’s leaders are committing crimes against humanity.
Navi Pillay’s January proposal has already drawn support from the United States. But the decision has proved sensitive in still-undecided South Korea, where leaders remain divided over whether to confront the North or try to somehow reduce tensions with it.
In the two decades of serious advocacy for human rights in North Korea — begun when defectors first started fleeing the country and telling their stories — little has changed inside the repressive police state, according to activist and government reports.