North Korean official claims country 'has the best human rights'
© Getty Images

North Korea's foreign minister defended his country's abysmal record on human rights in an unprecedented interview with The Associated Press.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The DPRK is completely misinterpreted to the whole entire world. I can for sure tell you that the country that has the best human rights would be the DPRK," Ri Su Yong said, using an acronym for Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Let me tell you: In our country there is no single person that does not have a job or who does not have any job opportunities. Everyone enjoys 12-year compulsory education, free education system and free healthcare system," Ri said. "In addition to that, if you come to the DPRK you will see there is no prostitution, no drug addicts, or anybody who's jobless or who's just laying down on the street being homeless. You will not find anyone like that. Then why did we become the worst country in terms of human rights?"

Ri briefly addressed the case of American student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly trying to steal a poster while visiting the country.

"The Virginia student, I will let the corresponding authorities know when I go back to Pyongyang that you are, also the American people, very much interested in how he is doing currently. What can be done as the next steps, it's beyond my jurisdiction," he said.

In the interview, Ri also proposed a deal to halt the country's nuclear program if the U.S. would stop its annual joint military exercises with South Korea.