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North Korea Warns of Punishment for US, Allies


Soldiers and citizens in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Tuesday protested a UN resolution condemning their country's human rights record. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

Soldiers and citizens in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Tuesday protested a UN resolution condemning their country's human rights record. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)


North Korea has warned several countries about their support of a United Nations condemnation of North Korea’s human rights record.

North Korea’s National Defense Commission released a statement that called the United States and its allies “riffraffs,” a term that means not respectable. The statement said the United States, South Korea and Japan will be, in its words, “unable to escape the heavy blow of merciless punishment.”

The recent U.N. committee vote called on the Security Council to send North Korea to the International Criminal Court for suspected human rights violations. The government of Kim Jong Un is accused of operating a system of political prisons. Reports say North Korea is holding more than 100,000 people in such prisons. It is accused of crimes against humanity including murder, torture, rape, and forced abortion.

Kim Yong-hyun is a professor of North Korean Studies at Dongguk University. He says he is not surprised that North Korea is reacting with strong language.

He says he expected that North Korea would express resistance against the international community with words instead of military action.

The North Korean statement denies and rejects the human rights resolution. It says the resolution is an attack on the country’s sovereignty. The statement says the resolution is a “declaration of war.”

The statement’s suggests the possibility of nuclear conflict. Some observers think this means North Korea is planning another atomic test. North Korea has held several nuclear tests and short missile launches in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

A South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman warned North Korea against doing nuclear tests. He said the international community will react firmly if North Korea provokes it.

Professor Kim Yong-hyun says North Korea knows that a nuclear test will destroy any chance for restarting international talks. Negotiators had been discussing an end to economic sanctions against North Korea for ending its nuclear program.

It remains unclear if the U.N. Security Council will request the International Criminal Court to try North Korea. China and Russia could veto such a move.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Brian Padden and Youmi Kim provided this report from Seoul. Caty Weaver wrote it for VOA Learning English. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jeri Watson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

merciless - adj. having or showing no mercy: very cruel or harsh

sovereignty - n. a country's independent authority and the right to govern itself

atomic – adj. of, relating to, or using the energy that is produced when atoms are split apart

provoke - v. to cause (a person or animal) to become angry, violent, etc.

sanction - n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc. — usually plural

Now it’s your turn to use these Words in This Story. In the comments section, write a sentence using one of these words and we will provide feedback on your use of vocabulary and grammar.

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