21 results found.
21 results found.
So, for those who can still make it on short notice, there will be a rally at noon tomorrow on the West Lawn of the Capitol, followed by congressional office visits at 2:30.
On Friday at 7 PM, there will be a free concert. You can get more details here.
KOREAN CHURCH COALITION for North Korean Freedom will be hosting a series of events in Washington D.C. on July 13, 2010 to July 14, 2010, to Speak on Behalf of the Voiceless.
Irvine, CA ““Member pastors of the Korean Church Coalition (KCC) for North Korea Freedom will hold a series of events in Washington D.C. and its surrounding areas. The events are intended to bring awareness to the current plight of the persecuted North Korean refugees and orphans and expose the weaknesses and strengths of the former and current US policy as it relates to the Korean Peninsula and neighboring countries.
Pastors from every state and major city in the United States will be joined by a delegation from South Korea, including Chairman Kwang Sun Rhee of the Christian Council of Korea (CCK-Han Ki Chong) and actor Cha In Pyo (“The Crossing”), and will march onto our Nation’s Capital to “Speak on Behalf of the Voiceless”, at the National Press Club, Lafayette Park adjacent to the White House, White House sidewalk on Pennsylvania Ave., the West Lawn of the US Capital AND the Congressional and Senate offices of this great nation ….
You can see a full calendar of events here:
Update: If the pdf won’t open, try this.
Laura Ling and Euna Lee are having their sham trial as we speak, so if you believe that prayer helps, this would be the time to pray for them:
Analysts warned that North Korea could use the trial of the Americans to improve its hand in the weeks before Mr. Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak hold a White House summit on June 16.
“Having two journalists detained in the North leaves the U.S. very little maneuvering room since Washington now has to take the women’s safety into account,” said Yoon Deok-min, a professor at South Korea’s state-run Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security. [AP, Jean H. Lee]
It hardly matters anymore where these women were caught at this point. They’re obviously no legitimate threat to anyone, and they’re just as obviously being held as hostages, away from their families, to try to shield Kim Jong Il from sanctions. That is terrorism, and it should be addressed as such.
Update: I can’t make the pdf download work, so the text is below the fold. Sorry. And in fact, I note now that this vigil announcement makes no reference to Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee, though their situation is no doubt a matter of great concern to the KCC.
I’ve been encouraged about the direction of the movement to publicize the plight of the North Korean people since the KCC and its leader, Sam Kim, threw their weight behind it. They’re bringing much-needed money, manpower, organization, and clout to the fight, and now they’ve launched a modest ad campaign in Korean-language media:
I can’t wait to see how the Chinese netizens react to this. It’s probably true — though not necessarily helpful to their cause — that the image of the firing squad probably depicts Chinese police shooting a Chinese woman. Still, this is what is needed. Publicity begets enthusiasm, numbers, contributions, and more publicity. KCC’s newsletter also has some great images of protests at Chinese consulates throughout the United States, along with images and descriptions of the now-infamous Chinese riot in Seoul:
If you’re spiritually inclined — and perhaps, even if you’re not — you can join the KCC’s efforts here.
[Update: Barack Obama endorses the rally and its cause with a nicely written letter. Read it here. Of course, it would be great to think that Obama will be as persistent and passionate on this issue as Sam Brownback, who introduced this resolution in the Senate. That’s two presidential candidates, one from each party. In a particularly bipartisan gesture, one prominent Republican staffer even sent me a copy of Obama’s letter(!). If the KCC turns out a good crowd tomorrow, their debut will have been an unqualified success. Finally, at the bottom of this post, I’m appending the text of a speech by Rep. Frank Wolf (thanks to his staff for sending). Though not directly on point to this rally in all of its many particulars, it’s a long series of reasons not to buy Chinese, the majority of which I agree with. The point here is that for these and other reasons, one gets the clear sense that the mood in Congress is turning against China.]
This move could — I repeat, could — infuse significant new momentum into this movement, which I don’t mind saying it sorely needs at a time when we don’t have the rapt attention of either political party. The KCC claims to represent 3,000 pastors and their churches, which is a lot of people.
The KCC’s contribution will face its first test on July 17th in Washington. At 9:45 a.m., it will hold a press conference at the National Press Club, followed by a noon rally on the Capitol’s West Lawn. They’ll conclude the day’s events with a prayer vigil at Pilgrim Church, Burke, Virginia at 7:00 p.m. There will be other rallies in Tokyo on August 13th, and in Seoul on August 15th. Here are some excepts from two press releases that were sent to me:
KCC announces formation of Jericho Institute, which will launch the “LET MY PEOPLE GO” Banner and 50 States Resolution project.
Irvine, CA ““Korean Church Coalition (KCC) for North Korea Freedom announces formation of Jericho Institute, which will launch the “LET MY PEOPLE GO Before 2008 Beijing Olympics” Banner and 50 States Resolution campaigns. These campaigns are intended to bring awareness to all 50 states and the world, the inhumane treatment of the North Korean refugees within China’s borders by the Government of China, and demand that China adopt a policy to allow the North Koreans within its borders be granted Refugee Status and be allowed to leave to a third country before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. [….]
The Noon rally will be attended by KCC representative from every state in the United States. The Korean American Community will not stop praying nor rest until freedom for all North Koreans is finally won.
You may be tempted, especially if you’re not religious, to dimiss the significance of this. That would be a mistake. On the opening night of Yoduk Story, the Korean churches played a large part in filling Strathmore Hall. In retrospect, that event was one of the movement’s greatest moments — the others being North Korea Freedom Day 2004 and the 2005 Freedom House conference. On each of those occasions, the politically powerful attended mostly to lend token support to the cause, but along the way, they saw its power, too. Although that power proved insufficient to keep the Bush Adminstration from selling the North Korean people down the river, the KCC enters the fight just in time to help set the agenda for the 2008 election. With its strong old-country connections, it might also wedge some of the South Korean churches into the fight, too.
‘For Years, the Korean Americans have sat in the sidelines and watched as the Government of China sat and watched the many Chinese criminals kidnap and sell the North Korean girls as sex slaves and others as slave laborers and treat the North Koreans in China as Criminals.’
‘On behalf of the millions of Korean Americans who reside in this great country, let me clearly and firmly state that We Will Stand By and Watch no More.’
‘Since the formation of KCC, one message came through with a consistent and moral clarity, from the prayers of millions of Koreans in the United States and around the world: “Let the North Koreans go Free”’. Statement by Peter I. Sohn, President, KCC
The KCC will be highlighting the role of states with early presidential contests: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Let’s hope they’re judicious enough to know which politicians mean what they say.
Another Christian organization that has been an important part of the movement is the Voice of the Martyrs. With a large, motivated network that’s mainly dispersed in The Real America (like, say, where I come from), VOM’s main impact has been to organize such grassroots activism as letter-writing campaigns. Today, they’re asking for letters and prayers on behalf of a condemned man:
Son Jong Nam, an underground Christian in North Korea, has spent more than a year in prison, awaiting public execution. He risked his life returning to North Korea to preach the gospel and VOM contacts believe he is still alive, although contact is limited. [Voice of the Martyrs]
More here. Other organizations are also appealing to North Korea to save Son Jong Nam, including this religious broadcasting site, which has much more biographical information and information about Son’s activities. NK Missions and Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the latter having impressive diplomatic connections (including some access to Ban Ki Moon), are also appealing for Son to be spared. CSW tells us that it was one of those regular rations of brutality that turned Son against the regime:
Mr Son Jong Nam was born in Sadong, Soryongdong, Pyongyang and served his full military term as a non-commissioned officer at the Security Protection Headquarters from October 1975 – May 1983. On 20th January 1998 Mr Son’s sister-in-law was investigated by the secret police while pregnant. During the interrogation she was kicked in the stomach and she miscarried. Mr Son brought the matter before the Central People’s Committee, but he was put under pressure for his actions and told to leave. This led to his disillusionment with the regime and his decision to leave North Korea followed shortly afterwards. [NK Missions]
Men like these are dissidents whose courage vastly exceeds those with far more coffee-house appeal. Let’s be very clear: Son is as good as dead, and the best we can probably do for him is to honor his courage with our remembrance. The life we still might save is two or three arrests away, and only if enough of us show our rage this time and the next. The underground Christian network is the only resistance movement North Korea has, and by all accounts, it’s spreading its revolutionary roots faster than the regime can dig them out. You can’t resist a system as brutal at that one unless you believe in life after a very miserable death.
I wonder how much irreparable harm it would do to our great breakthrough in relations with Kim Jong Il if one of our diplomats — or maybe even that great Korean humanitarian, Ban Ki Moon — would politely ask him to spare this man’s life. The odds of that are lower than Son Jong Nam’s odds of attending his son’s wedding.
A blog about North Korea never suffers from a shortage of material; rather, it is more likely to suffer from an insufficiency of time to curate such an abundance of material. A post that isn’t ready for publication when my train arrives at my stop may sit unfinished for hours, weeks, or even years. So it was last May, shortly after the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, when an intriguing video first emerged of Jong-nam’s son, Kim Han-sol, claiming that a group calling itself Cheollima Civil Defense had spirited him away to safety from Pyongyang’s agents.
Cheollima Civil Defense’s Korean- and English-language website is here, and has a link for financial contributions. Because this site has been eagerly watching North Korea for years for signs that organized resistance would rise (and instead found plenty of evidence of disorganized resistance) the story sounded almost too good to be true. But now, via the Wall Street Journal, comes a report that convinces me that Cheollima Civil Defense is a thing — and that thing is North Korea’s first organized resistance organization since the 6th Corps mutiny more than two decades ago.
When Kim Jong Nam, the exiled half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, was killed with nerve gas in a Malaysian airport on Feb. 13, it was evident who might be targeted next.
His 21-year-old son, Kim Han Sol, had similarly criticized the regime in Pyongyang, which was suspected of carrying out the attack. The son’s bloodline made him a potential threat to the Kim dynasty.
What followed was a secretive scramble by a group of North Korean dissidents to get Kim Han Sol, his mother and sister out of their Macau home and fly them to safety in a secure location.
Details have been largely a mystery since February, but the group that helped the trio get out agreed to discuss the evacuation with a media organization for the first time—and from its account it appears that Kim Han Sol was targeted.
There were “attempts by several parties to interfere” with the evacuation, a representative of the group, Cheollima Civil Defense, told The Wall Street Journal. [Wall Street Journal, Alastair Gale]
Read the rest of the story on your own. Recall that Kim Han-sol first came to the world’s attention in October 2012, when he sat down for an interview with Finnish former U.N. official Elisabeth Rehn (see reports here, via the Wall Street Journal, and here, via the Atlantic Wire). The most striking thing about Han-sol? He seems … nice. Normal. He speaks excellent English. His manner would not stand out as exceptional at a meeting of the Korean Church Coalition, where the young people I meet almost always seem cleaner and better-adjusted than the feral, mulleted, tobacco-spitting waifs I was raised with out on the prairie in South Dakota.
“I’ve always dreamed that one day I will go back and make things better,” Kim Han Sol said in the interview. He spoke fluent English with a British accent, and said he was interested in the revolution the previous year in Libya, as related to him by his Libyan roommate. [WSJ]
If you possess the spiritual certainty that I don’t, pray for the safety of this young man. He may have much to contribute to the future of his ancestral homeland. Among the more disappointing things we learn: how Pyongyang uses terrorism to its advantage. Canada refused to help Cheollima for fear of jeopardizing a hostage it was trying to convince Pyongyang to free.
But of course, there have been underground railroad groups helping North Koreans to escape through China for decades. What makes Cheollima something those groups are not? This:
The defector, who isn’t part of the group, said Cheollima is a small but well-connected organization that had helped North Koreans escape their country through China and into Southeast Asia.
The human-rights worker confirmed the group consisted of North Koreans and had good connections with foreign governments. “They moved very quickly and were verified at the highest level,” he said. Two Western diplomats said Cheollima was trusted to help defectors. [WSJ]
Does Cheollima represent a threat to Pyongyang? Not immediately, but over the long term, it is well-positioned to take advantage of rising disaffection among the elites, including the regime’s diplomats, and guide them to the protection of foreign embassies and intelligence services. For example, I’m convinced that we’ve yet to see the full political potential of the defection of Thae Yong-ho to sow doubt within the elites in Pyongyang. They may eventually help us make contact with key people in the armed forces to prevent war or split the regime’s internal cohesion. And of course, every defection by an official who brings his laptops, ledgers, and bank account numbers with him will have second-order financial impacts. If more defections cause the regime to distrust its diplomats and recall more of them, it could have almost as great an impact on regime finances and cohesion as the U.S. diplomatic campaign to get North Korean diplomats and workers expelled.
A reader forwarded me this link of a speech I gave to members of the Korean Church Coalition at the National Press Club last month, and I thought I’d post it here.
It’s not just appearances, either. A few young Korean-American over-achievers — two of them from northern Virginia — have found a technological exploit around Pyongyang’s information firewall (second item).
Consider: we live in the kind of country that collects and incubates the best talent of Korea’s diaspora. No combination is as powerful as the combination of character and intellect. Put that combination into the ideal incubator and it exerts an irresistible liberating force on that diaspora’s ancestral homeland.
It’s on the calendar. And while I doubt there will be serious opposition in the House, we’ll need Kim Jong Un’s help to pass the Senate this year. But if not this year, next. Eventually, he’ll do something stupid, and when he does, we’ll be ready.
By itself, passage in the House would be a major symbolic victory. No one will ever be able to say there’s no alternative to standing by and watching a nation be slaughtered, strangled, and starved to death.
You hear a lot about how polarized this Congress is politically, but the Foreign Affairs Committee is a haven from that. The (relative) partisan and ideological balance in this bill’s support reflects that even in the Congress, there’s still a place where the two parties can work together. Royce himself has called our North Korea policy “a bipartisan failure.” H.R. 1771 represents a bipartisan recognition that we need a better strategy.
I can’t overstate my appreciation for so much hard work by Korean-American and other groups that mobilized to pass this bill: the Federation of Korean Associations, the North Korean Freedom Coalition, the Korean Church Coalition (which ran an outstanding event to support this bill two weeks ago), and of course, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.
[The Korean Church Coalition, 2014 Leadership Conference, Washington]
Finally, I can’t overstate my appreciation to Chairman Royce for delivering, and to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s talented, overworked, underpaid, and often unrecognized staff members — of both parties, and in the Asia Subcommittee — who did the hard work that made this bill possible.
Scholte, whom I’ve known since 2003, leads the North Korean Freedom Coalition, which (among its many good works) contributes to those leaflet balloon launches that have irritated the North Korean regime so much. In 2008, Scholte won the Seoul Peace Prize. This year, she receives a new honor:
Suzanne Scholte, the president of the conservative Defense Forum Foundation of the U.S., has been named the winner of the Walter Judd Freedom Award. The prize will be presented by The Fund for American Studies, a U.S. non-governmental organization, on July 20.
Named in honor of the late U.S. congressman Walter Henry Judd, the annual award is given to individuals who advance the cause of freedom in the U.S. and around the globe. [….]
In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Scholte said that she is honored to receive the award and hopes that her winning will raise awareness of North Korea’s human rights problems as well as its nuclear programs and political situation.
June 22, Falls Church: There will be a free screening of the Korean film “The Crossing.”
June 25-26, Los Angeles: The Korean-American Coalition will hold its THINK Conference (Topple Hunger In North Korea).
July 13-14, Washington: The Korean Church Coalition will hold a rally and prayer vigil.
I was very excited when I learned a few months ago that the NK Freedom Coalition’s annual North Korea Freedom Week would be held in Seoul this year. The event was first held as North Korean Freedom Day in 2004.
I’ve offered to volunteer during the week, so I’m not sure how busy I’ll be or if I’ll be able to post much. But I hope at least to periodically upload photos from the various events. And there are many!! The schedule at first glance looks very, very good, but it seems that if you dig deeper, it gets even better.
You see, NK Freedom Week appears to be a somewhat decentralized series of events: coordinated centrally but ultimately put on and run by many different groups. So for the details of a given event, it looks like you have to find its schedule from the hosting organization.
For example, personal favorite PSCORE is on the schedule:
Friday, April 30th
1PM”“ North Korea Human Rights Act-related International Conference
Host: PSCORE People for Successful COrean REunification, Kim Young Il (youngilkim78 ‘at’ naver ‘dot’ com)
Location: Seoul Press Center, 19th Floor
Transportation: Subway – Line 1 or 2, City Hall Station Exit 4; Line 5, Gwanghwamun Station
Sounds interesting, but when I received an email from PSCORE, it contained a delightful surprise: there will be a special address by Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea. Full program here.
Also, were I not a member of Justice for North Korea, I wouldn’t know that Executive Director Peter Chung is speaking at this event:
Thursday, April 29th
1PM ““ Debate for Human Rights of North Korean Defectors: How Much Has Improved?
Host: Democracy Strategy Center, Kang Cheol Hwan
Location: Community Chest of Korea, Jung-Gu
Transportation: Subway – Line 1 or 2, City Hall Station Exit 3, 12; Line 5, Gwanghwamun Station Exit 6
Now the hard-core blogger would do the research and bring together in one handy place links to all the events during NK Freedom Week. Alas, I don’t foresee being able to find the time to do that, but if you happen to come across any of them, by all means leave a comment below.
Please notify anyone you know living in Seoul — NKFW’s schedule is diverse enough that most people should be able to make at least one event during the week or on the weekend.
Finally, to any activists in town a day early, everyone’s invited to join Justice for North Korea’s weekly street awareness campaign in Insadong Saturday at 3 p.m. Contact rescuenorthkorea \at\ gmail |speck| com.
A copy of the schedule (as of 4/19) follows. See the NK Freedom Coalition for possible updates.
WHAT BETTER SYMBOL could there be of the complete intellectual and moral collapse of Bush’s North Korea policy than this? (Hat tip to a friend.)
THE KOREAN CHURCH COALITION, which I think has to be the single most dynamic activist organization promoting human rights in North Korea today, has amassed a very impressive list of supportive letters from politicians of both parties. I’ve posted some quotes below the fold. The obvious question is whether those are more than mere words. After the let-down of the Bush administration — which followed a lot of hypocritical lip service — it’s clear that this movement needs the capacity to hold fickle politicians accountable.
RIP, ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN. I found some of his later writings unsavory, but the impact of his writing on the Soviet system is undeniable. I never had the time to plod through the entire “Gulag Archipelago,” but reading “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” had a strong impact on me when I read it during my high school years.
HMMM. “Two men rammed a truck into a clutch of jogging policemen and tossed explosives, killing 16 officers Monday, state media said, in an attack in a restive province of western China just days before the Beijing Olympics, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.” Assuming this report is accurate, it describes the sort of tragedy that doesn’t have to happen when people have democratic outlets for their aspirations. I’m afraid China is many more such tragedies away from being the kind of place where people have ways to express their grievances that don’t involve gunfire or explosives.
MCCAIN PULLS AHEAD by a statistically insignificant margin, according to Rasmussen, for the first time since Obama clinched the nomination. I don’t think there’s much predictive significance in a poll this early unless one candidate is way ahead of the other. What I think it does say is that Obama’s popularity in Europe doesn’t translate well here. I suspect that others — who question Europe’s benevolence toward America, as I do — may see it as a negative.
THERE’S NO PLEASING SOME PEOPLE:
In response to President Bush’s meeting with prominent Chinese dissidents at the White House, Beijing on Thursday sharply condemned Washington for interfering in China’s domestic affairs and accused American legislators of politicizing the Olympics. [N.Y. Times]
I can hardly imagine how Bush could get away with doing or saying less about how the Olympics has brought out the worst in China. He’s still attending the opening ceremony and offering only token words about Tibet, Darfur, North Korean refugees, Burma, or Zimbabwe. You’d think that if China is still finding the depth of his kowtow insufficient, he might as well just not go there at all (Hat tip to a reader). Meanwhile, Barack Obama is taking heat for buying ads during the Olympics. I’d be disappointed if McCain is doing the same.
THE KOREAN CHURCH COALITION’S final prayer vigils will take place on July 20th. Here are the details.
ROH IS LONG GONE, and yet all is not well in U.S.-Korean relations (imagine that). Discord recently broke out over the premature announcement of a POTUS visit to Seoul.
“Washington has offered an apology for making public Bush’s schedule for his South Korean trip without consultations with Seoul. But this is not the first time such an incident has occurred. It could be intentional disregard of diplomatic etiquette,” said a ruling party lawmaker.
“The U.S. has to be blamed for disregarding its strategic ally South Korea. What is worse, the Lee administration has failed to adequately respond. It should have lodged strong protests over Washington’s breach of diplomatic etiquette,” said the lawmaker. [Yonhap]
IT’S A PITY THE HAGUE WILL GET HIM, because Radovan Karadzic deserves the kind of punishment the Soft Reich doesn’t believe in anymore.
The New York Sun picks up the story of Kim Dong Shik and Barack Obama’s first broken promise:
In an interview yesterday, the executive director of the Korean Church Coalition for North Korean Freedom, Sam Kim, said he traveled to Congress in early June to remind Illinois legislators of a 2005 letter signed by Senator Obama, among others, that called on the North Korean regime to provide details about the case of the Reverend Kim Dong-Shik. Rev. Kim, who helped North Korean refugees flee to China, was abducted by North Korean agents in China in 2000 and believed to be in one of the regime’s gulags.
After President Bush announced last week that he would begin the process of removing North Korea from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, both Senator McCain and Mr. Obama said in statements that they would wait to see whether North Korea met its disarmament requirements before endorsing the move. But neither candidate said his support for adjusting North Korea’s status was contingent on the fate of Rev. Kim.
This was not Mr. Obama’s position in his first year in office. The January 28, 2005, letter he signed, sent to North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Pak Gil Yon, said: “We will NOT support the removal of your government from the State Department list of State Sponsors of Terrorism until such time, among other reasons, as a full accounting is provided to the Kim family regarding the fate of Reverend Kim Dong-Shik following his abduction into North Korea five years ago.”
The letter compared Rev. Kim to Harriet Tubman, who helped slaves escape to the North before the Civil War, and to Raoul Wallenberg, who helped save Hungarian Jews from Nazi concentration camps. “We view Reverend Kim Dong-Shik as also being a hero who assisted with the escape of the powerless and forgotten,” Mr. Obama and 19 of his Illinois congressional colleagues wrote in the letter. [N.Y. Sun, Eli Lake]
Obama’s campaign is now pivoting, which is a good thing for the immediate issue, though it’s hardly encouraging as a predictor of Obama’s consistency of principle:
Yesterday, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, Tommy Vietor, said: “Senator Obama believes we should not lift sanctions on North Korea until North Korea has met its obligations to provide a complete and accurate declaration about all its nuclear weapons programs and clarified the allegations about its proliferation activities, including to Syria. He also remains deeply concerned about North Korean abduction of foreign citizens and expects a full accounting of their circumstances.”
Sam Kim said he was frustrated by Mr. Obama’s silence on Rev. Kim. “We are talking about a human rights worker who was kidnapped, abducted from China by two North Korean agents, one of which was ultimately convicted in South Korea by the Roh administration, and the congressional representative from the state of Illinois, where the wife resides, is refusing to comment on the issue. Everybody is saying they don’t remember it,” he said.
Mr. Kim said he met with a member of Mr. Obama’s staff June 6 to raise the issue. He said in an e-mail that he told the staffer the senator “would lack credibility to the world and his management of foreign affairs would be put into question and show weakness, when in dealing with a terrorist country like North Korea, the Senator one day declares that he will oppose any delisting of North Korea, and then later, simply changes his mind and supports delisting, without North Korea ever complying with any of his prior demands.”
Suzanne Scholte of the North Korean Freedom Coalition expressed disappointment, both at Obama and at President Bush:
She added, however, that she was also disappointed in Mr. Bush. “Our feeling with President Bush is that this is a regime whose cruelty knows no bounds,” she said. “The things this regime is capable of are beyond human understanding. That we would fail to account for someone like Reverend Kim Dong-Shik, who is really a modern-day hero, is unconscionable.”
BELOW THE FOLD, a must-read: an eloquent statement by Mrs. Kim Dong Shik on her husband, his fate, and the politicians of both parties who forgot about their promises to help resolve it.
BUT WE MUSTN’T POLITICIZE THE OLYMPICS: China’s anti-North Korean refugee pogrom continues, though almost no one sees fit to mention it, and the people of South Korea still don’t really care about it. I wonder if they’d care more if they felt completely safe criticizing China.
AT TIMES, IT ALMOST SEEMS as if the State Department and the Pentagon answer to different presidents.
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JUNE 15TH from Prof. Sung-Yoon Lee. In retrospect, I think the very fact that we’re still talking it about may overstate its significance, though the unifiction is a persistent myth.
MILITARY SECOND: The Daily NK has more on a significant development in North Korean Kremlinology — the subordination of the once-supreme military to the secret police. This is a dangerous game for the regime.
THE KOREAN CHURCH COALITION will hold a series of prayer vigils thoughout the United States starting this month, on behalf of North Korean refugees in China. I’ve posted the full press release and a link below the fold.
[Scroll down for updates.]
The Korean Church Coalition passes along this press release on Chinese efforts to stop a North Korean human rights demonstration in Seoul, how those efforts backfired, and how the Chinese response since then has exacerbated the reaction.
Officially, the best China can offer is something that’s not widely perceived as an apology by South Koreans (who can be fairly reluctant to interpret apologies as such once offended).
Unofficially, Chinese “netizens” continue to propagate asinine denials that the Chinese students attacked Koreans or other demonstrators, or even that it was the Chinese who were the real victims. Those denials defy overwhelming evidence in the form of photographs and video, but as long as the Chinese continue to deny it, I’ll keep publishing photographs and eyewitness accounts here. These pictures are less damning than Dan Bielefeld’s, but they’re interesting nonetheless, and I thank the KCC for sending them.
I’m also passed an eyewitness account from the Reverend Tim Peters (second photo), a man I know and hold in extremely high regard. In law school, when professors wanted to describe the sort of evidentiary perfection that one never finds on this earth, we would hypothesize that the event in question had been witnessed by twelve Anglican bishops. I never asked Tim his denomination, but what he says carries the weight of evidentiary perfection in my book:
Upon putting up the Let My People Go banner, within about 1 minute I was surrounded by about 200 furious Chinese students, all waving PRC flags. By God’s grace, there were about 50police between Choi Young hoon and myself and the Chinese students. Some activists were hurt, so please pray for their recovery.
Contrast that with the Chinese Street’s version: “it didn’t happen!,” and its inbred cousin, “it didn’t happen, and you should thank us for not killing you.” The “all we wanted was to throw you a party!” defense is so unintelligent as to evoke more pity than rage (I had no idea censorship was so costly to critical thinking skills). Those who can at least perceive the futility of denial turn to argumentum ad hominem: “you’re agents provocateurs,” and inevitably enough, “running dogs” and “fetid Jews.”
The Party wanted to use the Olympics to show the world what it has made of China. I guess it has. It’s hard to imagine a greater P.R. fiasco than the absolutely-not-political Olympic torch run (hard yes, but I have a fertile imagination: pour a few mojitos into Jeremiah Wright, prop him up before a live open mike, and you have history’s most memorable Superbowl halftime show). Either case would be an apt illustration of half-oblivious, half-arrogant self-immolation, a defiant secession from the civil and peaceful accomodation of differences. Horror crowds out pity.
Yet all of this has been very good for a cause that the Chinese would have preferred not to publicize, had their stupidity not exceeded their brutality:
In the months leading up to the, KCC will go all out, in a peaceful manner of course. The Chinese radicals who attacked Tim and the KCC banner in made a big mistake, because they awoke the many sleeping Koreans who until that point felt that they could not make a difference. I received many, many e mails from outrage[d] Korean Americans.
Kim will also be announcing some good forward movement in recruiting bipartisan support for the cause in Congress, an effort at which the KCC’s efforts have made an unquestionable difference. But names, unfortunately, will have to wait for now.
Addendum: A lot of interesting developments this week I haven’t caught up yet, including the AEI event, but let’s take them in inverse order.
I attended an event this evening where I briefly met Shin Dong Hyok, who claims (the word offends, but how can we be certain?) to be the only survivor of the “life imprisonment zone” of Camp 14. He’d had a hard week talking about a hard life, and I didn’t have it in me to strike up a casual conversation about, say, his mom’s execution. What does one say to such a person? What must he be thinking with all of the exhaustion and sensory overload of meeting so many strange new faces, most of them sincerely compassionate, some of whom might be able to favorably influence events in his hellish homeland? How our doubts must madden him. In retrospect, “happy hour” may have been the wrong choice of words to describe the event. I felt bad for Shin, was glad to meet him, and also felt slightly ashamed for myself. I did ask if, at some other time, Shin would be able to identify sites inside Camp 14 on Google Earth. I’m happy to report that this idea has already occurred to others with far more wherewithall to present the results. It’s important that someone should take on such a project, but no one should have any great desire to be that person.
I was unequivocally happy to meet several other people there: Adrian Hong, Hannah Song, and commenter Joseph Hong, who supplies us with some of this blog’s best comments and links.
Another reader will forgive me for not identifying her — I’m not sure she’d want me to — but I was very happy to meet and speak with you nonetheless. The point to which I was coming in our conversation is that food aid, which should be directly distributed and monitored by Americans, Europeans, South Koreans, and Japanese, is probably the single most important and urgent way to reconcile with the North Korean people (as opposed to their government, which doesn’t want to reconcile).
Finally, I also met our lost-and-found-again friend Jodi, formerly of The Asia Pages. I was a frequent reader and infrequent commenter at her blog. Jodi didn’t often write about the topics I tend to write about, but I saw both vulnerability and wisdom in Jodi’s writing, and I found that endearing. Like me, Jodi turns out to be from freezing-cold flyover America. And I’m happy to report that Soju the cat lives with her to this day.
Just in case the Korean police are actually interested in prosecuting the Chinese thugs, here’s some video evidence to refute the fibs of the C-bots.
Exhibit A: Video of the violence of the Chinese mobs, where you can see people throwing things from the crowds. Park Tae-Hoon, the man with the bicycle who was beaten by the mobs, describes the incident (he seems to be OK now). A mean identified as a Chinese student group leader — a baldish man in his 40’s who looks much more like a government official — boats about the thousands of people the Chinese student groups organized. Can we infer that the students didn’t pay for all of those Chinese flags, some as big as a king-sized bedsheet, on their own? (ht)
Exhibit B: A montage of the Chinese mob violence we’ve seen in several countries during the torch run. You’d think that with this long a track record of Chinese mob violence in at least two continents, at the very least, the Chinese Embassy should have know what would happen when it organized the mob in Seoul:
Exhibit C: A woman, whose accent sounds either American or Canadian, has some terrifying moments when she’s caught between the opposing sides while protesting against China’s repatriation of North Korean refugees.
Exhibit D: I’ve posted another video of this, but here, two pro-Tibet protestors are surrounded and beaten in the lobby of the Seoul Plaza Hotel:
Exhibit E: Now this, you haven’t seen. The protestors turn out to be two young Americans. Here’s their description of what happened. Classy of them to ask the commenters not to race-bait, although that’s probably futile.
Exhibit F: More video showing the faces of specific Chinese students committing assaults on Koreans:
In Korea, the press furor over this appears to be quieting, but if you need any more evidence of how widespread, deep, and disturbed China’s chest-thumping nationalism really is, just follow the links in this comment by Sonagi. Think: Boxer Rebellion with nukes. Don’t miss this, either.
South Korean and American are pushing the issue of North Korean refugees as the Olympics approach, as as other issues focus intense pressure on China. Here’s what’s happening in Seoul:
Onlookers watch as a man tied up in ropes is led down a crowded pedestrian street by a woman holding a plastic assault rifle. Another man holding a megaphone explains that the re-enactment depicts a scene that has become an everyday occurrence in China. A multinational coalition of activists, calling themselves the 4-4-4 Campaign, holds this demonstration each weekend in downtown Seoul. [World Politics Review]
Meanwhile, the Korean Church Coalition is holding vigils in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, and its consulate in L.A. You can read more about the KCC’s campaign for North Korean refugees in China here.
The L.A. Times has also run a story on the stateless children of North Korean refugee women who are born in China.
Thousands of children in China are unable to attend school or obtain the privileges of citizenship because their mothers are North Korean refugees, Human Rights Watch said Sunday.
Large numbers of women who fled famine in North Korea came to China and entered relationships with Chinese men, and although these couples live as man and wife, the unions are not recognized by Chinese law and the children go unregistered.
The numbers of affected children may reach the tens of thousands, Human Rights Watch said in its report. China is home to as many as 100,000 North Koreans, the vast majority of them women. Just as the women need food and shelter, Chinese farmers are desperate for wives. [L.A. Times, Barbara Demick]
It’s hard to see how even the ChiComs being this heartless to innocent, especially when they’re born in China to Chinese fathers. If the mothers are arrested, will the kids — who’ve never set foot in North Korea — get deported to almost certain death there?
The Korean War Abductees Research Institute (KWARI) will hold a press conference next Thursday, July 26, 2007, at 2 p.m. in the Zenger Room of the National Press Club in Washington. The subject will be whether the return of abducted South Koreas should be a prerequisite to a North-South peace treaty. It’s a question you can hardly believe anyone would have to ask — isn’t the first prerequisite to peace that each nation ends its continuing offenses against the other nation’s people? Or so you would think.
Lee Mi-Il — a tiny, frail, and dignified woman whose father was abducted during the Korean War — is the President of KWARI. Lee has dedicated much of her life to getting her father back. I’ve heard her speak before, and she’s a very compelling witness. You can read the full press release here.
In case you were wondering, the man at right isn’t Lee’s father. His name is Kim Yong Nam, and he was kidnapped off a beach near his home as a boy in 1978. He was recently granted a brief and tortuous “reunion” with his family, on condition that he make up some kakamamie story that the North Koreans “rescued” him. Here, you see him at the moment he was pried away from his brief, tightly supervised visit with a family he hadn’t seen in decades. It’s things like this that leave me unimpressed with so-called “family reuinions” between North and South as a means of engagement. Anything arranged with the North Korean regime will be too controlled and scripted to be worth the ransom the regime will demand. The answer is to demand that North Korea let these people go.
That segues us to a string of messages I’ve exchanged with Sam Kim, President of the Korean Church Coalition. Sam forwards YouTube videos of the Let My People Go events (here, then click “more from this user”). He claims 200-400 attended the various events, and the rally on Capitol Hill looks to have had a strong turnout. I couldn’t guess at a specific number, the crowd looks like at least 200 people. One thing they did right was to design a good banner, order plenty of them, and ask the demonstrators to hold them up. It makes the crowd look bigger, it has more visual impact, and it lets any passing driver get the point in just a quick glance.
* Things Fall Apart. A seven-story building has collapsed in Hyesan, killing 20, mostly kids and old people.