The United Nations Security Council has held an open debate on the human rights situation in North Korea. It is the council's first such debate since 2017.
The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the meeting on Thursday was "long overdue."
She added that authorities in the North deny their people "fundamental freedoms" while devoting resources to developing missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
The council invited a man who defected from North Korea, Ilhyeok Kim, to share his experiences.
Kim said, "The money spent on just one missile could feed us for three months. But the government doesn't care and is only concerned with maintaining their power."
Japanese ambassador Ishikane Kimihiro said the violations extend beyond the Korean peninsula. He reminded his counterparts that Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea decades ago are still being held there.
Chinese officials have for years resisted an open debate on human rights in the North. They say the situation does not pose any threat to international peace. They added that the debate is "irresponsible, unconstructive, and an abuse of the council's power."