Toronto men in their 70s
walk to Ottawa to highlight human rights abuses in North Korea
Hyon Ki Ha and Kyung Bok Lee are pushing for
unification of North and South Korea
elderly Toronto men have completed an epic trek to Ottawa to bring
attention to human rights abuses in North Korea.
(Harry) Ha, 78, and Kyung Bok Lee, 70, arrived in the capital on foot
Monday after leaving their home ciy of Toronto on Aug. 15.
they walked the 400 kilometre journey to promote peace and the
unification of North and South Korea, a move they believe will help
liberate North Koreans.
very sad that we are not united," said Ha. "I think it's time to stop
that and be one country." Ha — who came to Canada in 1967
— said one way to bring democracy to North Koreans is to unite the
time for North Korea to open its border to the free world...[and] to
democratize. And this has to be done with the help of South Korea."
Korea's troubling human rights
record is one
reason the men want to shine a light on the issue of unification. They
hope to deliver a petition to the South Korean Embassy for
president Park Geun-hye to push for a peaceful merger.
'Crimes against humanity in North Korea'
been working for human rights in North Korea for many, many years," said
Lee. "The international community, especially the UN Commission of
confirmed there exists crimes against humanity in North Korea. It has been
committed. It is being committed at this moment."
Lee said he made the 400 kilometre journey to Ottawa to promote the unification
of North and South Korea and to shine a light on the human rights abuses in
North Korea. (CBC)
what happens in North Korea is tightly monitored and controlled by
the country's leader Kim Jong-un and his government, Lee said human
rights abuses — like the nation's prison
camps — are well documented.
to the testimony of defectors it came to light," said Lee. "It is evident
that they do have [prison camps] and that shouldn't be tolerated."
June 2015, then-member of Parliament Irwin Cotler introduced a
private member's bill calling on the Canadian government to create a Human
Rights in North Korea Act so that a special envoy could be created to
monitor and report on the human rights situation there. It didn't
pass, but Lee said he would like Canada to create
similar legislation so that abuses in the country do not continue to