Anju, March 25, 2012

CASEY LARTIGUE EVOKES the memory of Frederick Douglass in support of North Korean refugees. I think the comparison isn’t just apt, but overdue.



Although such a two-tiered society is not uncommon in the developing world, North Korea once prided itself on breaking free from this model of stratified development. True, the regime traditionally maintained a rather complex political hierarchy based on perceived loyalty to the system, but this neo-Confucian system is giving way to a more familiar economic class system.

To the two aforementioned classes must be added a third. The human-rights situation within North Korea remains abysmal, as an estimated 150,000 people languish in political prison camps under atrocious conditions. This represents a third class of people in North Korea: political untouchables.

Any policy toward North Korea must somehow take into account these three groups of people: the prospering, the struggling, and the incarcerated. Human-rights groups such as Amnesty International have devoted much energy to this latter group, using name-and-shame tactics to shed light on the predicament of those deprived of all rights. [Asia Times]

In the end, Feffer really doesn’t offer any new solutions or approaches, and the tone of his piece seems to be more outraged that some North Koreans are getting rich than the idea that others are suffering in extreme poverty. Still, as a longstanding critic of Feffer’s moral blind spot for these “untouchables,” I have to give him credit — this is progress.


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN JOURNALISTS DON’T QUESTION AND RESEARCH before they publish? They write crap like this:

North Korea has established an investment insurance firm recently in what is believed to be an effort to attract more foreign investment by reducing risks stemming from uncertainties in the communist nation, a source said Sunday.

The North’s firm is expected to purchase reinsurance from an international company, the source said. The system is similar to an insurance measure that South Korea’s government has been operating to compensate its businesspeople for lost investment in the North.

It marks the first time Pyongyang has introduced such an insurance system for foreign investors.

Really? The first time? So did it occur to anyone at Yonhap to ask Kim Kwang-Jin about that, or maybe consult with Mr. Google? See also Marcus Noland’s thoughts on this story.


I WONDER WHO PRINTED all that money.


I’VE BEEN A FAN OF LI MI-IL, who leads a large organization of family members of people abducted by North Korea, since I heard her speak at an event on Capitol Hill a few years ago. When you think of Li, think of a tiny, diminutive, female version of Inigo Montoya.


  1. Watch out about the Daily NK article (second to last) re: Li Mi-Il because on my iMac, Google Chrome reports malware. Someone/something attacks the Daily NK site every two or three months. I’m sure the the same people/groups also attack the One Free Korea site as well. Mr. Stanton, thank you for defending it and us from all this.