John Kerry Criticizes Kim Jong-un's Leadership in North Korea
The secretary of state stressed Washington's tough stance on North Korea.
By JOOHEE CHO
May 18, 2015, 11:53 AM
• 4 min read
SEOUL -- Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly stressed Washington’s tough stance on North Korea on Monday, warning that more sanctions were possible if Pyongyang continues to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
He also characterized North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s leadership as one of the most “egregious displays ... anywhere on the planet,” citing “stories of grotesque, grisly, horrendous public displays of executions on a whim and fancy.”
If such behavior continues, Kerry warned, the international community could call for North Korea to be referred to the International Criminal Court. Last week, South Korea’s intelligence agency reported that it believes Kim swiftly executed his close confidant and defense chief, Hyon Yong-chul, in public with an anti-aircraft machine gun for disloyalty and falling asleep at official events. The spy agency later retracted the original assessment, saying it is certain Hyun was killed but it could not confirm the execution.
In an effort to bring peace on the Korean peninsula, Kerry said the U.S. was waiting for signs of a genuine willingness from North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program. But “to date, to this moment, particularly with recent provocations, it is clear the DPRK [North Korea] is not even close to meeting that standard,” Kerry said at a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byong-se. Pyongyang earlier this month has claimed to have successfully launched a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the first time.
Later, in a speech at Korea University in Seoul, Kerry criticized North Korea along with unnamed countries for repressing citizens’ access to the Internet and the right to freedom of expression.
“With the lowest rate of access in the world, and the most rigid and centralized control ... no other governments are extreme as the DPRK,” he said. Countries with poor Internet freedom, he said, hinder free exchange of ideas and innovation, which could also lead to disrespect for human rights.