American student Otto Warmbier on his way to the North Korean High Court( Photo: Associated Press)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — It was just months ago when President Donald Trump used his first State of the Union address to condemn the cruelty of North Korea’s government. But after his historic summit on Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he described as «very smart» and having a «great personality,» Trump seemed to play down the severity of human rights violations in North Korea,writes Associated Press.

American student Otto Warmbier, center in photo, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea. President Donald Trump had previously condemned the cruelty of North Korea’s government, but after his historic summit on Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump seemed to play down the severity of human rights violations in North Korea.

Human right problems

«It’s rough,» Trump allowed after being asked about North Korea’s human rights record. He then said: «It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way. Not just there.» Few expected Trump to seriously raise North Korea’s horrific human rights problems during his first meeting with Kim, which was mainly about addressing the threat of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons. Still, his post-summit comments drew an angry reaction from activists, who have spent years highlighting North Korea’s extensive crimes against humanity. «By leaving human rights out of the final statement, the Trump administration effectively told North Korea that human rights are not a U.S. priority,» Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, wrote on the group’s website.

«For North Koreans, this means continued public executions, restrictions on movement, brutally punishing three generations of a family when one member ‘offends,’ and an absolute prohibition on any civil and political rights, on top of inadequate access to food, housing, education, and health care.»

In his speech to Congress in January, Trump lashed out at the «depraved character» of Kim’s government. He pointed to invited family members of Otto Warmbier, an American detainee who died after returning from North Korea with severe injuries, and a North Korean defector who lost a leg while scrapping for food and traveled thousands of miles (kilometers) on crutches to escape, rites Associated Press.

A brutal Side

Since assuming his father’s throne in 2011, Kim, a third-generation hereditary leader, has shown a brutal side while consolidating his power. In what critics called a «reign of terror,» Kim executed a slew of members of the North Korean old guard, including his uncle Jang Seong Thaek, who was convicted of treason, and senior government officials accused of slighting his leadership.

Kim has also been accused of ordering the assassination of his estranged half brother, Kim Jong Nam, last year at a Malaysian airport by assailants using a highly-lethal nerve agent.

South Korea’s government said in 2016 that Kim ordered the execution the Vice Premier Kim Yong Jin. Seoul officials then told reporters in background briefings that Kim Yong Jin had been accused of sitting in a «disrespectful» way during a meeting of the North’s rubber-stamped parliament.

In 2015, South Korea’s spy agency said Kim Jong Un ordered his defense chief, Hyon Yong Chol, executed with an anti-aircraft gun in front of hundreds of spectators at a military shooting range. Hyon had complained about Kim’s leadership, the National Intelligence Service said.

Abducted four thousand

According to South Korean government figures, North Korea abducted at least 3,835 South Koreans after the 1950-53 Korean War, mostly from the 1950s to the 1970s when Seoul says the North systematically kidnapped its nationals and other foreigners to train them for propaganda and spying. While most were eventually released or successfully escaped back to the South, 516 never returned as of 2015, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. It’s unclear how many are alive, writes Kim Tong-hyung for Associated Press(Twitter at @KimTongHyung.)

Kim Jong-un møter presiddent donald Trump(Photo: Ap)

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