Office of the Spokesperson
Question Taken at the May 1, 2012 Daily Press Briefing
Question: Do we ever raise the issue of forced labor camps when we are in direct talks with the North Koreans?
Answer: The United States remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the DPRK, including forced labor camps. Promoting human rights is a key component of our policy toward North Korea, and how the DPRK addresses human rights will have a significant impact on the prospect for closer U.S.-DPRK ties.
Ambassador King, Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, had direct discussions on human rights issues with North Korean officials in Pyongyang in May 2011, including with First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan. Both Ambassador Bosworth and Ambassador Davies raised human rights issues in their capacity as Special Representative for North Korea Policy in each round of high-level U.S.-DPRK bilateral talks.
In addition to raising these issues in face-to-face meetings, we highlight our specific concerns about human rights in North Korea in our annual human rights report. Through international organizations, including the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council, we call attention to specific human rights violations and with our bilateral and multilateral partners, we continue to identify areas where we can improve human rights conditions on the ground in North Korea.
Note: For an excellent firsthand account of life in North Korea's concentration camps, see Kang Chol-Hwan's The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag.