Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se plans to ratchet up pressure on Japan over its wartime enslavement of women and call for global efforts for better human rights conditions in North Korea at a UN session on Wednesday, officials said Tuesday.
Yun departed for Geneva early Tuesday morning for a UN Human Rights Council session scheduled for March 3-28. He will be the first South Korean top diplomat to attend the meeting since 2006, and the first ever to raise the sex slavery issue there.
His three-day trip comes as Seoul hardens its stance on the long-festering sex slavery issue in response to a string of remarks by Japanese officials and politicians denying the country's imperial past.
In his keynote speech, he is expected to urge Japan to resolve the issue and drum up international support in tackling sexual violence in armed conflicts. Seoul is demanding sincere apologies and compensation for the aging victims.
"Yun plans to call for the resolution of the Japanese military's mobilization of comfort women, which is a universal human rights issue of not only the past but also today," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Another key issue is rampant human rights violations in North Korea, which was highlighted by a landmark, comprehensive report released recently by a UN Commission of Inquiry.
The 400-page document brims with shocking accounts from defectors and witnesses of rape, murder, torture and other "systematic, widespread and gross" atrocities.
"Yun's participation in the meeting will provide a chance to stress the need for international efforts in improving human rights in North Korea in light of the publication of the COI report," the ministry said.
During his three-day stay, Yun will also meet separately with Navi Pillay, UN. high commissioner for human rights, and Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, to discuss ways to boost cooperation on human rights, humanitarian assistance and other issues, the ministry added.