CREDIT: AP Photo/South Korean Unification Ministry
With a name like the “Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea,” one would assume that the statements issued under its name would be full of diplomatic language, urging an end to the war that officially is still ongoing between North and South Korea. But given the Committee’s place as a communications arm of the North Korean government, that’s not the case. Instead, as seen in its latest release, the tone coming from the Committee tends to be inflammatory at best, downright hostile at worst.
The Committee on Monday put forward dire warnings for that most diabolical of organizations: the United Nations. Earlier this year, the U.N. Human Rights Council agreed to launch a new office based in South Korea to monitor the human rights violations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — North Korea’s official name. In its statement released through the state-run KCNA news agency, the spokesperson for the Committee said the office “is an anti-DPRK plot-breeding organization aimed at launching aggression and bringing down the social system in the DPRK.” The statement also refers to the report the U.N.’s commission of inquiry prepared on North Korean human rights abuses as “peppered with sheer lies that were cooked up by the U.S. and its allies.”
“We have already strongly warned that the establishment of the ‘office’ in south Korea is a hideous politically-motivated provocation insulting and mocking at the dignity of the DPRK and its people, a serious hostile act of denying and challenging the social system in it and a declaration of the confrontation of the social systems,” the statement continues. Adding that since those warnings were ignored “we will strongly react against it,” the statement ends on a grim warning: “Needless to say, the ‘office’ and its staff are not excepted from being targets of this action.”
The denunciations in Monday’s statement are actually quite mild compared to some of the other comments that have come from the office in recent months. In April, the Committee made waves in comments over President Obama’s visit to South Korea. In its April 27th statement, South Korean president Park Geun-hye came under yet another gendered attack from the North Koreans. “What Park did before Obama this time reminds one of an indiscreet girl who earnestly begs a gangster to beat someone or a capricious whore who asks her [pimp] to do harm to other person while providing sex to him,” the committee’s release read. The rant also referred to Park as “a wicked sycophant and traitor, a dirty comfort woman for the U.S. and despicable prostitute selling off the nation.”
While the invective against Park is extremely disturbing, the Committee has a long history of issuing statements that are more about blasting the South Korean government than promoting reunification. In March, responding to military drills between the U.S. and South Korea, the Committee referred to the “military hooligans” in the South Korean army and lamented the “tragedy of the nation that the group of cursed traitors like Lee Myung Bak is still at large even though they deserve divine punishment for the heinous crimes they already committed against the nation.” After the South Korean minister of defense Kim Min Sok spoke disparagingly of North Korea at a press conference, the Committee’s spokesman declared, “Idiots like Kim Min Sok should clearly understand that Chongwadae [the Blue House where the president lives] of South Korea and its colonial system will have to disappear in face of strikes to be entailed by their reckless tongue wagging.”
As far back as 2012, when the younger Kim took over from his deceased father, the Committee was slamming the prospect that reforms would be coming to North Korea. “The puppet group [the South] … tried to give [the] impression that the present leadership of the DPRK [North Korea] broke with the past. This is the height of ignorance,” the anonymous spokesman for the Committee said. “To expect policy change and reform and opening from the DPRK is nothing but a foolish and silly dream, just like wanting the sun to rise in the west.”
Also known as the “Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland,” the body isn’t technically part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s government. Instead, the Committee was established in 1961 as part of the Worker’s Rights Party which just so happens to have North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as its head and every leader in North Korea as a member. In that way, North Koreans can comment on reunification without the government officially working with South Korean officials.
It’s worth bearing in mind that all of this propaganda from the Committee is just that — propaganda. What really matters is what goes on behind closed doors, as seen when the two sides met in a high-level meeting this February. That meeting resulted in the first reunification between families divided by the Korean War in three years. Unfortunately, in the months after, North Korea fired several short-range missiles and dismissed the idea of any future reunions in the near future.
The United Nations is also more of a legitimate target of North Korean ire than you might think: technically, it was the U.N. went to war against North Korea in 1950. It’s also the U.N. — under the command of the U.S. — that has troops deployed on the border charged with keeping the armistice in place. But given that the Committee is threatening the U.N. over documenting the many, many human rights abuses perpetrated inside North Korea’s borders, it comes across as a less than ideal way to promote peace between the Koreas.