North Korean pop band cancels Beijing concert, leaves for home

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Band favored by North Korean leader cancels Beijing concerts.

BEIJING (AP) — An all-female band formed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un canceled its concerts in Beijing and abruptly left the Chinese capital for unknown reasons, possibly further cooling relations between the traditional allies.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief has told the Security Council it is “essential” that the council refer North Korea’s bleak human rights situation to the International Criminal Court, a proposition that the reclusive country views with alarm.North Korea came under stinging criticism at the UN Security Council on Thursday for the second consecutive year for the unparalleled horrors of human rights violations that deny millions basic freedoms. The meeting, which fell deliberately on international human rights day, was chaired by the United States, which had joined eight other members in calling for the talks on Pyongyang’s dismal rights record. The Moranbong Band was visiting China along with North Korea’s State Merited Chorus and was due to perform later on Saturday at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts.

However, band members arrived at Beijing’s airport in North Korean Embassy vehicles on Saturday afternoon, and departed aboard a North Korean Air Koryo jet shortly after 4 p.m. following a lengthy delay, Chinese news website sina.com reported. China, North Korea’s neighbor and a traditional ally, demanded a rare vote on whether to discuss the issue, saying the council is not the place to discuss human rights. The band is Kim’s pet project as he tries to put his own personal stamp on the North Korean arts, and the short haircuts of the group’s young women members are trend-setting in the capital Pyongyang. A staff member at the National Theater, where the band was to give the invitation-only performances, said the concerts had been canceled, but did not give a reason. Quoting from a report by the UN secretary general, she said tens of thousands of prisoners had for generations been gradually eliminated through deliberate starvation, forced labor, executions and infanticide. “The list is long, the abuses vast and the anguish profound,” she said.

Ambassador Samantha Power, the current council president, replied to the objections with an incredulous “Really?” And without mentioning China by name, she called for an end to the practice of sending North Korean refugees back to their country, where they can face imprisonment and torture. Read More Tags: N Korea pop group halts China tour, N Korean pop band Moranbong cancels China goodwill tour, N Korean pop band Moranbong leave China even before concert began, No reason given for sudden departure of N Korean pop band Although North Korea is well known for its unpredictability, the sudden cancellation of the concerts could hurt relations between Beijing and Pyongyang. The council took up the issue after a U.N. report, based on interviews with scores of defectors, detailed widespread government abuses such as mass starvation. The bands’ abrupt departures might have been related to stories circulated by the South Korean media about a rumored past relationship between the married Kim and a female member of the band, which also made rounds on Chinese social media, said Yang Moo-jin, a North Korea expert at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

The UN General Assembly has recommended the same course of action several times, but China — North Korea’s only major world ally — would likely block any such move with its veto power. Prisoners, including children, have been deliberately starved, made to carry out forced labor, been subject to extrajudicial killings and summary executions, torture and rape. Food insecurity is an ongoing concern, women are subject to gender-based violence and discrimination, and international abductions was also of “very grave concern,” he said. North Korea rejects criticism of its human rights record, but in September its foreign minister extended an unprecedented invitation to Zeid to visit the country. Zeid told reporters after Thursday’s meeting that he hopes to go to North Korea “in the near future” and that discussions on the details continue.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month that he will try to visit North Korea “at the earliest possible date” in an effort to promote peace on the Korean peninsula.

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