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Seven of 10 S. Koreans back NK human rights bill: poll

2014/12/22 11:47

SEOUL, Dec. 22 (Yonhap) -- Slightly over seven out of every 10 South Koreans think that the South should enact a special law aimed at improving North Korea's dismal human rights conditions, a poll showed Monday.

The survey of 1,000 South Korean adults, conducted by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, showed that 73.1 percent of the respondents approve of the legislation on the human rights issue.

Slightly more than 72 percent of those surveyed said active intervention is needed to resolve the North Korean human rights issue because it is a matter of universal rights. Only 19.3 percent voiced opposition to meddling in what is deemed an internal North Korean issue, the survey indicated.

Around 40 percent of the respondents chose international pressure as the most effective means of helping improve the human rights situation in the communist country, while 32 percent supported the use of dialogue in pressing the country.

Only about 62 percent of the respondents, however, said they are interested in the North Korean human rights issue in general.

The survey comes amid growing local and international pressure on the North for its dismal human rights record.

Earlier this month, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted an unusually strong-worded human rights resolution against the North, calling on the Security Council for the first time ever to refer the North Korean human rights situation to the International Criminal Court.

The U.N. move followed a report issued in February by a U.N-commissioned investigative body, which documented "widespread, systematic and gross" human rights violations by the North Korean leadership.

Spurred by the international action, South Korean lawmakers have also resumed efforts to enact the North Korean human rights law. Local bills on the issue had long been pending at the National Assembly due to disagreement between the conservative and liberal political parties.

The North has repeatedly dismissed the human rights violation charges since the adoption of the U.N. report and recently threatened to conduct an additional nuclear test following the adoption of the resolution at a U.N. committee and the General Assembly.

The survey also showed South Koreans were mixed regarding the recent sending of propaganda leaflets via balloons by some conservative groups to the North. Nearly 50 percent claimed it was not necessary, while 45.6 percent said it was.

The survey taken on Dec. 12-13 had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.