Chico Harlan of The Washington Post has written a story about that lengthy new report from South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission, and graciously threw me a couple of nice, fat links in the story (thanks, Chico!). This is a good thing for the North Korean people if more of us learn of their suffering. It’s also great for this blog, although it’s a bit like having a distinguished visitor stop by when you’re unpacking from a big move.
This site is unpacking — from a big move last weekend, when I finally overcame my fears and upgraded from (don’t laugh, I’m very sensitive) Word Press 2.0.4 to 3.2.2, which also made this sa-weet new template possible. Unfortunately, some of my Google Earth screen grabs didn’t survive the migration, so if I can’t work some FTP magic, I’ll have to reload them this weekend.
If any reader in Korea can get his hands on a translation of the NHRC report and send it my way, I’ll be eternally grateful. The substance of Harlan’s description, like the other excepts I’ve written about here, is horrific. For years, our foreign policy establishment, including presidents of both parties, have tried to isolate any discussion of these atrocities from our diplomacy with North Korea, believing that it would blow up negotiations over “higher” priorities. It didn’t work that way when we raised human rights with, say, Burma, of course, or in our years of disarmament talks with the U.S.S.R. In those cases, we understood that atrocity and mendacity spring from a common pathology, and that advocating for the people of those countries helped build friendships that endured (or will endure) longer than their oppressors. Until we persuade this regime that its present pathology equates to its own extinction — not by war, but by economic constriction and political subversion — negotiations will continue to achieve nothing.