By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea denounced the new U.S. special envoy on the country’s human rights issues, Julie Turner, as a “wicked” person who has resorted to “mudslinging” while interfering in other countries’ internal affairs.
Turner, former director of the State Department’s Office of East Asia and the Pacific in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, was nominated by President Joe Biden to the position in January and confirmed last week by the Senate.
An unnamed spokesperson of what North Korea’s state media called the Association for Human Rights Studies said Turner had earned “notoriety” for “mudslinging” over human rights issues and “spitting out coarse invective” against the country.
“Her absurd remarks are nothing but grumbles of either a person ignorant of even the concept of human rights or a human rights abuser embodying the inveterate bad habit of the U.S. which revels in meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and slandering it,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
The appointment of “such a wicked woman” highlights Washington’s hostile policy toward Pyongyang, it said, warning of “retaliatory action of justice.”
In a separate dispatch, KCNA accused France of escalating tension by sending fighter jets for joint air drills with South Korea.
The air forces of South Korea and France held their first bilateral exercises last week, marking the 70th anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. French troops fought in the battle as part of U.N. forces.
“This is an irresponsible act that fuels tension in the already sensitive Korean peninsula and an outright military provocation that threatens our security interests by taking advantage of the U.S. hostile policy towards us,” KCNA said, citing a researcher named Ryu Gyong Chol.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; Editing by Matthew Lewis)