We have seen recent media reporting speculating on the purge and execution of the Defence Minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), General Hyon Yong Chol, together with other officials. There has been no announcement from the DPRK on the fate of General Hyon and, due to the opaque nature of the DPRK system, it is difficult to verify the accuracy of such reports.
We continue to be deeply concerned by the DPRK human rights situation and use our diplomatic relations to press these concerns wherever possible. In January, representatives of EU embassies in Pyongyang, including the UK, met the DPRK Foreign Minister to discuss a range of issues including human rights. In February, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials met with DPRK Embassy officials and discussed freedom of expression, the March UN Human Rights Council session and EU plans for a resolution on human rights in the DPRK. More recently, at a meeting in March with the DPRK Ambassador to the UK, we underlined the strength of British Government and public interest in this issue. We used these meetings to raise our concerns and to encourage concrete change in the DPRK and positive interaction with the international community. The DPRK expressed disappointment over the UK and EU’s work to raise our concerns in international fora and challenged international assessments of its domestic human rights situation.