Despite North Korea's recent international engagement and pledge for economic reforms, a United Nations special rapporteur says there have been no changes in terms of human rights in the country and the situation remains serious.
At a press conference Friday after wrapping up his five-day visit to South Korea, UN Special Rapporteur on the North's human rights Tomas Ojea Quintana, quoting a North Korean defector he met this week, said "the whole country is a prison."
He said witnesses who recently left North Korea reported facing widespread discrimination, labor exploitation and corruption in daily life.
The UN rapporteur criticized Pyongyang for failing to cooperate with his investigation, expressing regret that he has never been allowed entry into the country.
During his visit to Seoul, Quintana met with government officials and North Korean defectors to collect information on the North's human rights for his spring report to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March.