The U.S. Senate has approved the nomination of Robert King, a former congressional aide, as special envoy for North Korean human rights, congressional sources said Sunday, according to Yonhap News.
King was named by President Barack Obama in September under the North Korean Human Rights Act which calls for provision of financial aid to help improve human rights conditions in the North and accommodation of North Korean defectors into the U.S.
The act was effectuated in 2004 under the Bush administration for a four-year run and was extended by Congress for another four years in September last year. It calls for "activities to support human rights and democracy and freedom of information in North Korea," and "assistance to North Koreans who are outside North Korea," plus 12-hour broadcasting to North Korea.
Speaking at a Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month, King said he will raise China's deportation of North Korean defectors with Beijing.
Most of the defectors cross the border with China to seek shelter. South Korea has received nearly 20,000 of them since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
The U.S. has taken in about 80 North Korean refugees since the North Korean Human Rights Act.