During a meeting disrupted by a North Korean delegate, UN Human Rights official Ivan Simonovic said "it is my sincere hope that the international community will continue to examine ways to prevent and punish the crimes that are being perpetrated in the DPRK today."
Simonovic highlighted the work of Human Rights Council's commission of inquiry that took place last year.
That report stated that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a state characterized by the denial of the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It also warned that human rights violations were committed in a widespread, systematic manner, adding that those violations constituted crimes against humanity.
Simonovic also said "the tireless efforts of the international community, civil society and the victims from whom we will hear from today, is working. It is working towards bringing the DPRK to the realisation that violations will not go unseen and unpunished."
During the event –sponsored by the US and South Korea delegations-, North Korean defector Joseph Kim said "my country is buried and lost in political conversations. Sometimes we forget that North Korea is not just a country buried in a dictatorship but that there are people who have hopes and dreams like myself, my mother and my sister."
Kim grew up during the great famine of 1990's, at the age of 12 he saw his father starve to death, his mother disappeared and his sister fled to China to search for food. He arrived in the US in 2007 as a refugee. He is still searching his sister.
Right after Kim's testimony a North Korean delegated disrupted the meeting despite the insistence of the host of the event –including US ambassador Samantha Power - to wait for the proper moment to intervene.
South Korean ambassador Oh Joon said "the delegation of the DPRK today disappointed us. They were interrupting the process. They should have spoken when they were given a chance. So, I'm very disappointed. I think it's a pity."
US ambassador Samantha Power said "this delegation (DPRK) was informed before this event started that it would have occasion to speak as soon as we've heard from the defectors who were the center piece of today's event; and unfortunately as you heard the delegation chose instead to try to drown out the testimony of these panelists and I will say it must be chilling for those of you have been subjected to the terror of the regime to be confronted with bullying and disruption and the kind of behavior that we saw today."
At the event, moderated by award-winning author and journalist Barbara Demick, there were 23 North Korean defectors in attendance, including panelists Joseph Kim, Jay Jo, and Kim Hye-Sook.