Mongolian president makes “unusual” comments about tyranny while in N. Korea
Curiosity is growing about why a foreign leader visiting North Korea would have openly made a remark that could be construed as a criticism of the North Korean system of government.
The text of the speech at Kim Il-sung University was posted on the official website of Mongolian president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj on Nov. 15.
“Mongolia is a country respecting human rights and freedoms, upholding rule of law and pursuing open policies. . . Freedom enables every human to discover and realize his or her opportunities and chances for development. This leads a human society to progress and prosperity,” Elbegdorj said in the speech.
“No tyranny lasts for ever [sic]. It is the desire of the people to live free that is the eternal power.”
In regard to the speech, the office of the Mongolian president explained that the topic of the speech had been suggested by North Korea, and the North had only advised that they refrain from using the words “democracy” and “market economy.”
The office also noted that no one had asked any questions after the speech was over and that audience members had risen and given a length round of applause as Elbegdorj left the auditorium.
The speech also expressed opposition to the death penalty and to corruption.
“Since June 2009, Mongolia has fully stopped capital punishment. We stand for full abolishment of capital punishment,” said Elbegdorj
“Twenty one years ago, Mongolia declared herself a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The five permanent Member States of the UN Security Council have confirmed Mongolia’s status in writing. Mongolia prefers ensuring her security by political, diplomatic and economic means.”
“We do not hide our shadow. Our mistakes and our lessons are open. . . The path a free and open society walks on is a learning process itself,” the president emphasized.
Elbegdorj also explained the efforts Mongolia had made to reform the judicial system in the country. “Corruption is a mortal enemy on our way to development,” he said. “Mongolia strives to implement a policy of zero-tolerance to corruption.”
On Oct. 31, North Korea’s official news agency, Korean Central News Agency, reported that Elbegdorj had visited Kim Il-sung University on the final day of his trip to North Korea and had made a speech there.
The report said that the Mongolian president had mentioned Mongolia’s politics, economy, history, and culture, but it did not provide any details of what he said.
“It is extremely unusual for a foreign leader to say this sort of thing in a speech during a visit to North Korea,” said an official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“This is even more unusual when you consider that it is customary for both countries to adjust the content of each other’s speeches. It will probably take some time before we can learn what North Korea’s intentions were.”
“This is something you would never have seen in a speech under the Kim Jong-il regime,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.
“It would appear that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wanted to present North Korea not as a dictatorship but rather as a country in which freedom and human rights are guaranteed.”
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