SKorea: North's human rights abuses 'an obvious truth'

SEOUL - South Korea has dismissed as "preposterous" North Korean efforts to capitalize on a defector's recent admission of lying in a bestselling account of the reclusive state's brutality.

Unification ministry spokesperson Lim Byeong-cheol underlined at a press briefing Monday that "North Korea's systemic and widespread violations of human rights are an obvious truth."

Shin Dong-hyuk's life story "Escape from Camp 14" was written by journalist Blaine Harden and published in 2012.

The account made such an impact that the former prisoner's testimony influenced last year's damning report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into human rights issues in North Korea.

The U.N. General Assembly went on in December to vote in favor of referring the North to the International Criminal Court.

Under pressure from other defectors and the North Korean regime itself, Shin admitted last month that parts of his account were untrue -- for example, periods that he spent outside Camp 14 as well as his time-line of events.

Shin apologized to supporters via social media, explaining that he had "forever wanted to conceal and hide" part of his past.

Pyongyang quickly claimed that Shin's inaccuracies undermined allegations about North Korea's abuse of human rights as a whole.

The North's official KCNA news agency condemned the U.N. commission's report as "no more than a false document cooked up on the basis of false ‘testimonies’ made by human scum."

But the man in charge of the commission, retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, also swiftly pointed out that the partial retraction would not have a significant impact on his report.

As for Shin, he maintained "the world still needs to know of the horrendous and unspeakable horrors that are taking place."

Various global agencies are in agreement, with defector testimony and satellite imagery supporting the claim, that up to 200,000 political prisoners are incarcerated in North Korea.

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