Human Rights Sanctions The Camps

OFK in the WaPo

Many thanks to my friend Prof. Sung Yoon Lee for offering me the opportunity to co-write this with him, especially since he frankly did most of the writing this time.  It’s a pleasure to write with Prof. Lee.  He’s a terrific writer, and our views align so closely that there’s no need for painstaking negotiations over wording and content.  Really, I don’t know of anyone who (1) understands the pathology of North Korea better, and (2) can express it so well in my native language (which he speaks better than me, to tell the truth).

After you’re done with that, don’t miss this paper Prof. Lee wrote as part of a symposium for the National Bureau of Asian Research.  In the pages of Foreign Policy, Dan Blumenthal highlights it as “a much-needed dose of reality about what exactly we are dealing with.”  Must reading.

I also have to compliment the WaPo folks for a particularly speedy and professional job of editing this for publication.  I’ve been an editor, and I know how hard it is to boil something down to the space limits without harming the author’s intent.

In case you’re keeping score, that’s one-twothree times I’ve been linked by the Post today, which must be some kind of record.  For that, I owe many thanks to Adam Cathcart and, of course, Max Fisher.  After all these years, I’d grown accustomed to being dismissed as a crank raving from the margins.  I hope I won’t miss that old familiar feeling.  I mostly hope that all of this effort will eventually matter where it counts.

Update:  Geez.  Get a load of The Washington Post‘s Editorial Board, sounding like us:

This should not mean trying once again to engage North Korea in negotiations: More than 15 years of such efforts have demonstrated that the United States lacks the leverage to induce the regime to give up its nukes. If any country has such leverage, it is China, which supplies its neighbor with fuel and food. U.S. diplomacy should be aimed first at pressuring Beijing to take responsibility for the growing menace on its doorstep. New Chinese leader Xi Jinping has the opportunity to change a policy that, in backing the Kim regime in the interest of “stability,” has made the Korean peninsula steadily more dangerous.

Though sanctions on North Korea are already tight, the Obama administration should look for new ways that the U.S. financial system can be used to cut off the regime’s access to international banks. It should work to bring greater attention to the human rights calamity in the North.

That’s the next best thing to an endorsement. I never thought I’d live to see that.


  1. Excellent commentary. Completely agree with yours and the professors’ thoughts on a way ahead. The last time we clamped down on them as hard as you’re proposing (the couterfeit Super Notes) we apparently hit them where it hurt. I recall the US froze something like 17 million in an overseas account and North Korea had a melt down. Probably personal funds of Kim Jeong Il.



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