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ICC Note: North Korean Human rights and defector groups are struggling financially given the warming ties between the two Koreas. The Moon administration in South Korea has been taking measures to sideline human rights issues and activities in order to show the goodwill towards North Korea.

06/27/2018 North Korea (Channel News Asia) – Human rights and North Korean defector groups in South Korea say they are struggling to raise money, cutting jobs and programmes, and facing pressure to avoid criticism of Pyongyang as Seoul and Washington focus on diplomatic outreach to the isolated country.

Activists say they were disappointed but unsurprised human rights has seemingly disappeared from the agenda as South Korean and American leaders met with Kim Jong Un in recent months.

“As South and North Korea have promoted this ‘mood for peace,’ the defectors and North Korean human rights activist groups feel excluded,” said Kim Tae-hee, a defector who heads the Coalition for North Korean Refugees.

The South Korean government recently closed the office of a human rights foundation, and representatives of several non-governmental organizations told Reuters they have struggled to secure funding.

Citing a lack of financial backing, as well as recent clashes between police and groups trying to send leaflets into North Korea, Kim said she feels the government is undermining the work of human rights and defector NGOs.

“I feel that an invisible hand is at work,” she said.

The Unification Ministry said its stance remains that it “will strive to comprehensively protect the civil liberties and social rights of the North Korean people”. A spokesman on Wednesday highlighted efforts to help North Korean defectors settle in the South.

But President Moon Jae-in’s administration has moved away from criticism of Pyongyang’s rights record in favour of engagement.

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