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North Korean diplomats confronted defectors in Indonesia, report says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korean diplomats confronted defectors in Indonesia, report says
North Korea dismissed its Ambassador to Indonesia Ri Jong Ryul after defectors continued human rights awareness events in the country, according to South Korea press. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

SEOUL, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A dramatic confrontation between North Korean defectors and Pyongyang's diplomats took place in Indonesia, and North Korea reportedly dismissed the ambassador on duty days after the incident.

The defectors were speaking at a North Korea human rights events in Jakarta Sept. 16-17 when North Korean Embassy personnel arrived on the scene and verbally attacked the activists, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported.

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"We will not forgive criminals," Pyongyang's representatives reportedly said. "If you keep creating problems, bad things will happen."

A few days later, North Korea dismissed its Ambassador to Indonesia Ri Jong Ryul, replacing him with An Kwang Il, according to South Korean embassy sources.

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North Korea is a member of the United Nations, but its human rights record has been subject to international scrutiny. North Korea had slammed the U.N.'s Human Rights Council for discussing Pyongyang's record at its 30th regular session on Monday, and Pyongyang depends on a handful of countries, including Indonesia, for support at the U.N.

South Korean news network YTN reported North Korean diplomats are under pressure from Pyongyang to block events in third-party countries that call attention to North Korea's human rights record.

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A South Korean embassy source said Indonesia-North Korea relations have recently hit a stumbling block after a North Korea human rights event was promoted at a university in Indonesia, and the North Korean Embassy filed an official complaint.

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On Sept. 18, the defectors requested and received Indonesian police protection at another human rights event held in Bandung.

Pyongyang has said Indonesia and North Korea hold traditionally close ties. Ri, the dismissed ambassador, had met with Rachmawati Soekarnoputri, the second daughter of Indonesia's founding President Sukarno in July before she had recognized Kim Jong Un as a "Global Statesman" with an award previously conferred to Mahatma Gandhi and Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi.

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