North Korea slams UN human rights expert as 'US puppet'

North Korea has accused a U.N. human rights expert of serving as a "puppet" of the United States, claiming she made "reckless remarks" about the country’s system. 

The North Korean Permanent Mission to the U.N. issued a statement Friday calling U.S. efforts to improve human rights a "racket" and that it was "ridiculous" for the U.S. "to behave itself as a ‘human rights judge’" while still trying to grapple with its own issues.

"The ‘human rights’ racket of the U.S. and other hostile forces ... is nothing but the most politicized hostile means for tarnishing the dignified image of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)," it said in a statement. 

"Not long ago, the U.S. Department of State gave hearty welcome to the group of the puppet traitors' appointment of ‘ambassador for international cooperation on North Korean human rights’ while taking issue with our ‘human rights’ situation viciously." 

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Elizabeth Salmon, the U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea’s human rights, made her first visit to South Korea to meet with officials, activists and North Korean defectors following her appointment last month. She said Friday she was "fully aware that the lack of cooperation in [North Korea] is a challenge, no doubts about it." 

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North Korea asserted it had "made clear" that it would "neither recognize nor deal with any ‘special rapporteur,'" slamming Salmon for her statement in Seoul. 

Salmon outlined the purpose of her visit, which aimed to "meet with, speak to and learn from" victims of the DPRK’s human rights violations

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"I will assume a victims-centered approach throughout the course of my mandate," Salmon said in her statement. "In the past decades, we have learned that it is the victims of human rights violations that must be the focus of any human rights or humanitarian endeavor.

"The legitimacy and effectiveness of our work rests on this," she added. "For my mandate, this will include providing more opportunities for the voices of victims to be heard."

North Korea added that it would "never pardon" the U.S. and its "vassal forces" that aim to overthrow its "social system." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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