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Seoul Cracks Down on Dissent Against North Korea

Sung-Yoon Lee co-publishes op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on the U.S.' role in the fight for peace in Korea.

South Korea is the second-greatest threat to human rights on the Korean Peninsula. President Moon Jae-in ordered a crackdown in July on activists protesting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s crimes against humanity. South Korea’s national police have undertaken politically driven audits of more than 100 human-rights organizations, and the president is pushing for new laws to criminalize speech.

Mr. Moon has staked his legacy on improving relations with Pyongyang, but in practice that’s meant taking cues from its vicious dictatorship. On June 4, Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong denounced South Koreans who use balloons to send leaflets across the demilitarized zone. Calling them “human scum” and “mongrel dogs,” Ms. Kim demanded that Seoul “make a law to stop the farce.” Hours later, Seoul said it would ban the leaflet campaigns. Police raided activists’ offices, and the Unification Ministry, which oversees relations with North Korea, revoked the operating licenses of two organizations.

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