The North Korean Opposition Meets Washington

If you think establishing a government in exile is a simple matter of renting an office and designing a flag, just pause to consider the history of past efforts that had backing in Washington. The Iraqi National Congress may have loosely united many of the Iraqi emigres in Washington, but it appears to have had little support in Iraq or among most of Washington’s own feuding factions. Angola’s UNITA lived up to its name by uniting the country’s only effective opposition under a charismatic and brutal practitioner of witch-burning who was at least as bad as the Soviet-backed government he sought to replace. Afghanistan’s rebels may have been decisive in winning World War III, but their failure to achieve political unity nearly destroyed their country and sowed the seeds of World War IV.

Few exiled opposition movements have managed to successfully navigate the uncharted path between disunity and factionalism on one hand, and unity imposed by terror on the other. Then there is the matter of appealing to all of the squabbling factions in Washington, whose views vary between blind enthusiasm, hopeless naivete, and perfidious obstructionism. And the relative dominance of these views is subject to change with each U.S. election season.

In the case of North Korea, the challenges are even greater. There is still no known internal opposition of any significance. There are no dissident poets or scientists writing for clandestine newspapers, no Helsinki Watch, and no liberal priests. Any dissidents worthy of the name occupy mass graves. Hwang Jang Yop, an octagenarian with little charisma and deep ties to the regime and its ideology, is the only opposition figure of any national prominence.


North Korea’s Opposition Movement Is Born

Yet if the North Korean people are ever to see past the hopelessness of resisting the irresistable to a better future worth the risk of their lives, they must see a vision of what that future could be. That someone has finally stepped forward to build it deserves to be seen as an important step. At the very least, it should start a discussion among North Korean exiles and refugees (and perhaps, even a few still inside the North) that may lead to the formation of political parties and movements that can compete for popular support, and eventually, votes.

Last Friday, the Exile Committee for North Korean Democracy staked its claim on the barren soil of North Korean politics with a conference at the National Press Club and an event in one of the House office buildings on Capitol Hill. The ECNKD advocates supplying information to people inside North Korea, including the smuggling of radios and the broadcasting of information. It speaks of the need to take on the difficult and dangerous work of organizing resistance against the regime, giving a voice to those who are disaffected, hungry, or bereaved by losses during the famine. It means to recruit and train “democratic missionaries” from its 6,300 exiled members to go back and sow resistance inside North Korea.

It is both commendable and overdue for someone to speak to these needs directly, and any North Korean political movement that doesn’t undertake such measures assures that its constituency will not include any actual North Koreans.

The Right Man?

That being said, add me to the “skeptical” column when it comes to the question of whether Hwang Jang-Yop and the other men and women who lead the ECNKD are the ones who can inspire the North Korean people or lead them through what promises to be a difficult transition to reunification. Hwang could have spent his autumn years in the peace of his home. Instead, he has defied threats and South Korean efforts to muzzle him, and yet he remains politically active. It’s never easy to judge men like Hwang Jang-Yop or Rudolf Hess who were instrumental in setting up murderous regimes but later broke from them.

This is not the only baggage Hwang carries to the exiled opposition movement. At the Defense Forum Foundation event last Friday, former Democratic New York Representative Stephen Solarz drove directly to this point. Solarz, now a member of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, asked why Washington should accept Hwang’s professions of belief in democracy as sincere when he was the architect of the juche ideology and frankly, given that his departure from the North appears to have been a prudent act of self-preservation. The ECNKD’s representatives could only respond by asserting that Mr. Hwang is absolutely committed to democracy. Politics takes practice, but I was not among the persuaded.

Hwang doesn’t help matters by clinging to the juche system that was his intellectual offspring. He insists that the real juche–the one with which I’m obviously not familiar, since the one I recognize owes much to the Fuhrerprinzip–was a “people first” system, in contrast to Kim Jong Il’s “military first” wrongheadedness. I suppose it was inevitable that such in a Stalinist system, two such interpretations couldn’t coexist, and the holder of one of the diverging views would end up getting himself shot or running for dear life. The problem is, that’s how it was during the “good old” juche of Kim Il-Sung’s day. Hwang appears disturbingly untroubled by this, as do his colleages, many of whom appear to have absorbed his revisionist view of juche, and none of whom showed signs of the fire-eating charisma that inspires people to risk their lives for their freedom.

How to Lose Your Independence Before You Gain It

The ECNKD’s greatest political handicap is that its platform simply wouldn’t work. It pours its hopes into the leaky vessel of China’s national conscience. To the ECNKD, severing the diplomatic relationship between North Korea and China is the key to changing North Korea. This begs the question–pursued with wonderfully ruthless persistence by Orien Kuang, a young Chinese emigre from the election think-tank IFES–how, exactly do you intend to do that? The ECNKD representative responded that it would seek to move the Chinese government by persuading the Chinese people–the last time I checked this, they didn’t have the vote–and by promising China the eternal friendship of the North Korean people for helping them. The ECNKD also looks to China as a model for gradual economic reform, presumably after the displacement of the current regime. It’s hardly a promising strategy for bending wills in the inner sanctum of sociopathic realpolitik.

The Question of Reunification

The ECNKD also declares that reunification should be delayed for five to ten years while North Korea achieves prosperity under an interim government led by . . . Hwang Jang-Yop.

At this point, Gordon Cucullu (Gordon will emerge as an intellectual and organizational leader in the North Korean human rights movement this year; he has a book on North Korea’s drug trade coming out this fall) asked how Hwang’s interim government could possibly contain the human waves of hungry refugees and job-seekers who will start streaming into Dorasan the minute the statutes of the Great Leader are pulled down. Again, there was no satisfactory answer, nor many details. Would delayed reunification mean no votes for North Koreans in the interim? Would South Korean troops move in? How quickly would the machinery of oppression be dismantled? Does delaying reunification really mean something more like the creation of “special economic zones” inside North Korea, and which would be absorbed into a united Korea on a set timetable?

A sudden collapse will almost certainly mean chaos. Who will restore order if North Korean soldiers and police suddenly strip off their uniforms, blend into the population, or turn to banditry? Someone–either South Korea or China–will have to do it, and delaying the entry of South Korean troops invites China to step into a vacuum of dithering Korean politicians and take control itself. I didn’t leave the event with a clear understanding of whether Hwang was completely hostile to such a scenario. In this case, reunification would probably have to await a democratic upheaval in China itself, and perhaps longer.

A Start, Nonetheless

I hope these important and tough questions won’t be perceived as one ankle-biting American blogger’s criticism of the hard work of a small group of North Koreans who seek to bring freedom to their homeland. These criticisms, because they are honest, could greatly strengthen an opposition movement’s appeal within North Korea. I hope my year-or-two of writing and blogging speaks for my commitment to a common cause. Our own independence movement featured quasi-monarchists and slave-owners, and yet things did eventually work out much for the better. So it usually goes with open political systems, no matter how imperfect they may be at their inception.

If, five years from now, we look back on this as the week that the Exile Committee for North Korean Democracy formed the first embryonic political alternative for a new North Korea, it will have been a historic day. But for it to achieve its objectives, it will need the help of other defectors who understand that the North Korean system can only be ended by revolution, not by evolution.

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Voices from the Grave

This is a story that should start with a description of how it ended. Other than a few well-connected activists, most of those in the room had been a select group–congressional staffers, think-tankers, diplomats, attaches from embassies . . . even Nelson Mandela’s nephew, a pleasant enough man, now wearing the uniform of a general. Before the event had even begun, one bored staffer had whined to another, “I’m sooooooo ready for the weekend. When the two men we had come to hear had finished telling us their stories, the people in the room split off into knots and cliques. “I hear he’s retiring after the next term. “It’s never getting out of committee. “I’m sorry, I know I remember you from somewhere. “I’ll e-mail you.

The small old woman and I were two of the few “ordinary” and undistinguished ones who didn’t belong to any other group, and as I left to go back to my son, more thankful than I had ever been that he was just an hour away, the woman asked me the way out of the labyrinth known as the Rayburn House Office Building. She must have been almost eighty and walked slowly, with difficulty. She needed my help to descend the steps to the street, even as she insisted that she could find her bus by herself, and that she didn’t need a cab. She was there for her brother–not the two who had served in World War II, or one who had been wounded in Viet Nam–but for the one who had never come home from Korea. The one who had been reported captured and who was never heard from again. I looked at her face and tried to imagine the face of the scared young American in the captivity of men hardened by war, and for an instant, I thought I saw him, innocent and vulnerable to a hundred reaching fingers of death in a cold, hungry, angry place–one that would never mark his grave or record the final moments of his humanity for those who would spend the next five decades seeking them.

And still, she hoped, for she had heard that one of the Korean men who had escaped that same hell had seen six Americans in August 1953, after the war had ended and was bringing prisoners of all sides back home across the Bridge of No Return. Indeed, the man did say he saw them, but had told us little else. He didn’t describe speaking to them, hearing them speak to others, or their features, clothing, or patches. The woman and I were both disappointed not to know more, but my own disappointment must have been nothing compared to hers. She had been active in the National Alliance of Families and obviously devoted years of her life to finding him. Listening to her, she clearly believed that he could still be alive. Anything is possible, of course, but the odds must surely be against anyone surviving fifty years in what is arguably the world’s cruelest place.

* * * * *

But of course, we had come to hear voices from the grave today, proving that the dead do speak. I won’t tell you their names, because they still have friends, perhaps even family, in the North. For the same reason, I won’t post the pictures I took today. I’ll call these two men C and K instead.

* * * * *

That being said, I wish I could show you C’s face. One look at the man and you understood how he’d made it. He stood like a statue of inextinguishable dignity and spoke with a quaking-yet-strong voice that seemed to have endured a thousand horrors just for the chance to tell everyone in that room, me, and you what he lived through and what it means for us. He told us that it was his duty to expose what he had seen and lived through, and he thanked us for coming to hear it, as if this chance to tell us what he had seen was his last remaining reason for having clung so stubbornly to life for so long. His next words were his heartfelt thanks to the U.S. Congress for passing the North Korean Human Rights Act, and to the American people for the lives they gave for the defense of his country.

C graduated from high school near Seoul in 1950 and entered one of Korea’s most prestigious universities. Two months later, North Korea invaded the South. C did not say how he survived until December, when U.N. forces reentered Seoul, but that month, he entered the Korean Military Cadet School and began a crash training program that ended just four months later, in April 1951, with his graduation and commissioning as a second lieutenant. C soon found himself at the front, assigned to an infantry division.

C’s military career was not a lengthy one. On May 19th, just a month after his graduation, he was taken prisoner of the Chinese Army. After making it through the summer and what must have been a harsh winter, in 1952 he found himself before a North Korean military court, which sentenced him to thirteen years of hard labor at a remote labor camp. For most who shared C’s fate, it would be a slow death sentence without the luxury of finality.

C spent those first thirteen years in the camp without a pillow, a blanket, underwear, or socks. He had nothing but his prisoner’s garb to keep him from freezing. There was no razor for shaving, no water for bathing or washing. An oil drum was the communal toilet. By the age of forty, C had lost all of his teeth. The camp was, he said, “a heaven for the fleas and ticks,” but hell for the men who lived and died there. The primary causes of death were starvation and disease–all of the other four officers POWs who shared C’s post-armistice captivity died there–but some were executed. Executions generally took place outside the camp, in front of members of the public, including family members of the condemned.

In 1964, C completed his military sentence and was sent to the first of two civilian mines where he worked. It was here that he took his first bath in thirteen years. He was still a forced laborer in a mine 1994, when he must have been in his late sixties, in a country where thousands were already dying of famine. It was then that C somehow escaped, though he told us agonizingly little of how he managed to become the first South Korean POW to get out of North Korea after the war’s end. He returned to the Republic of Korea in October 1995.

* * * * *

It was hard to tell where C’s descriptions of his camp life ended and those of North Korean society in general began, just as it often seems to an outsider that all parts of North Korea are different levels of security in one vast prison. C appears to have had little contact with the world outside of his camp until 1964. Even on the “outside,” North Korean society as C described it tolerated no form of dissent, criticism, or religious belief. He reported that from early childhood, North Koreans were taught that Americans were sub-human, like animals with two legs, or hyenas. His final comment was to call South Korea’s abstention from the U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution on North Korea “shameful and embarrassing.

* * * * *

K was drafted into the South Korean Army in 1952, and was wounded and taken prisoner by the Chinese 11 months later, in July 1953. On the 27th of that same month, the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed. The following month, K was released from a Chinese military hospital and sent to a prison camp. It is here that K reports seeing six Americans, although again, the details are unclear. First, K gave no physical description of the men. Second, he reports no contact with them that could corroborate such details as names, home towns, or units. Finally, he reports seeing the men in August 1953, which was within the 60 days permitted for the repatriation of prisoners under Article III, paragraph 51(a). From the little detail we have, it is entirely possible that the men were repatriated as required, or even that they were not American, or even allied, prisoners.

If there is doubt about who K saw in August 1953, there is little doubt about North Korean non-compliance with the armistice. K remained in his prison camp until 1956, when he was transferred to a mine. He worked in the mines for 36 years until 1992, when he had reached an age when most men would be retiring from such a difficult and dangerous occupation. Mining takes a high toll from rock falls, asphyxiation, explosions, and working around heavy equipment. K survived all these hazards under the most dangerous conditions imaginable, without safety equipment or training. Did I mention that he did this with one leg and one eye?

Why not simply return the prisoners as agreed? K describes an order numbered “143” by Kim Il-Sung that became a household term in parts of North Korea, and which ordered the retention of thousands of South Korean prisoners for reconstruction labor. Unlike the North Korean forced laborers who toiled beside them, a “143” or his family members were never eligible for rehabilitation to government jobs and party membership. Nonetheless, K reports that the discrimination against “143’s” was slightly relaxed many years after the end of the war.

Like C, K reports having little to eat and surviving horrific working conditions. A meal generally consisted of watery cabbage soup with a handful of millet. Conditions worsened dramatically in the 1990s. K reports that North Korea’s public distribution system ceased to function for most of the population in 1992, but that miners continued to receive rations to sustain them through their hard labor. This corresponds to when, according to Dr. Andrei Lankov, the regime began telling people to eat two meals per day. K reports that mass starvation began in his area in 1993 and 1994.

From 1992 to 1995, K worked at a farm, and does not report working thereafter. In July of 2000, he escaped into China.

* * * * *

Both C and K were angry that their government had forgotten the cause for which they fought and the nature of the regime that caused their suffering. K was particularly bitter that South Korea had grown prosperous and forgotten that the suffering of his generation at the hand of men like the North Koreans had made it possible. Yet he was humble enough to apologize that he and his fellow soldiers had failed in their duty to unite the country. This was one of several emotional moments as we heard from these men, and not a few of the Koreans in the audience were wiping away tears. Such men deserve better than to be forgotten, but they were. Hundreds of their comrades allegedly remain behind in North Korea while the South Korean government fails to make their release a condition of continued trade and aid.

Contrast this with the extraordinary lengths to which the United States government will sometimes to go recover a few bone fragments from a long-lost crash site, it is astonishing that South Korea simply tolerates this with hardly a word of protest.

My thoughts return to the old woman whose hopeful search for her missing brother will go on. He is a man whose name I may never know, and who may never be found, but whom I will never forget. Later, as my son blissfully ate the Happy Meal I’d promised him that morning, I thought of the men who had made it possible to enjoy our small ration of decadence.

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Actual post date: April 23, 2005

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Voices from the Grave

This is a story that should start with a description of how it ended. Other than a few well-connected activists, most of those in the room had been a select group–congressional staffers, think-tankers, diplomats, attaches from embassies . . . even Nelson Mandela’s nephew, a pleasant enough man, now wearing the uniform of a general. Before the event had even begun, one bored staffer had whined to another, “I’m sooooooo ready for the weekend. When the two men we had come to hear had finished telling us their stories, the people in the room split off into knots and cliques. “I hear he’s retiring after the next term. “It’s never getting out of committee. “I’m sorry, I know I remember you from somewhere. “I’ll e-mail you.

The small old woman and I were two of the few “ordinary” and undistinguished ones who didn’t belong to any other group, and as I left to go back to my son, more thankful than I had ever been that he was just an hour away, the woman asked me the way out of the labyrinth known as the Rayburn House Office Building. She must have been almost eighty and walked slowly, with difficulty. She needed my help to descend the steps to the street, even as she insisted that she could find her bus by herself, and that she didn’t need a cab. She was there for her brother–not the two who had served in World War II, or one who had been wounded in Viet Nam–but for the one who had never come home from Korea. The one who had been reported captured and who was never heard from again. I looked at her face and tried to imagine the face of the scared young American in the captivity of men hardened by war, and for an instant, I thought I saw him, innocent and vulnerable to a hundred reaching fingers of death in a cold, hungry, angry place–one that would never mark his grave or record the final moments of his humanity for those who would spend the next five decades seeking them.

And still, she hoped, for she had heard that one of the Korean men who had escaped that same hell had seen six Americans in August 1953, after the war had ended and was bringing prisoners of all sides back home across the Bridge of No Return. Indeed, the man did say he saw them, but had told us little else. He didn’t describe speaking to them, hearing them speak to others, or their features, clothing, or patches. The woman and I were both disappointed not to know more, but my own disappointment must have been nothing compared to hers. She had been active in the National Alliance of Families and obviously devoted years of her life to finding him. Listening to her, she clearly believed that he could still be alive. Anything is possible, of course, but the odds must surely be against anyone surviving fifty years in what is arguably the world’s cruelest place.

* * * * *

But of course, we had come to hear voices from the grave today, proving that the dead do speak. I won’t tell you their names, because they still have friends, perhaps even family, in the North. For the same reason, I won’t post the pictures I took today. I’ll call these two men C and K instead.

* * * * *

That being said, I wish I could show you C’s face. One look at the man and you understood how he’d made it. He stood like a statue of inextinguishable dignity and spoke with a quaking-yet-strong voice that seemed to have endured a thousand horrors just for the chance to tell everyone in that room, me, and you what he lived through and what it means for us. He told us that it was his duty to expose what he had seen and lived through, and he thanked us for coming to hear it, as if this chance to tell us what he had seen was his last remaining reason for having clung so stubbornly to life for so long. His next words were his heartfelt thanks to the U.S. Congress for passing the North Korean Human Rights Act, and to the American people for the lives they gave for the defense of his country.

C graduated from high school near Seoul in 1950 and entered one of Korea’s most prestigious universities. Two months later, North Korea invaded the South. C did not say how he survived until December, when U.N. forces reentered Seoul, but that month, he entered the Korean Military Cadet School and began a crash training program that ended just four months later, in April 1951, with his graduation and commissioning as a second lieutenant. C soon found himself at the front, assigned to an infantry division.

C’s military career was not a lengthy one. On May 19th, just a month after his graduation, he was taken prisoner of the Chinese Army. After making it through the summer and what must have been a harsh winter, in 1952 he found himself before a North Korean military court, which sentenced him to thirteen years of hard labor at a remote labor camp. For most who shared C’s fate, it would be a slow death sentence without the luxury of finality.

C spent those first thirteen years in the camp without a pillow, a blanket, underwear, or socks. He had nothing but his prisoner’s garb to keep him from freezing. There was no razor for shaving, no water for bathing or washing. An oil drum was the communal toilet. By the age of forty, C had lost all of his teeth. The camp was, he said, “a heaven for the fleas and ticks,” but hell for the men who lived and died there. The primary causes of death were starvation and disease–all of the other four officers POWs who shared C’s post-armistice captivity died there–but some were executed. Executions generally took place outside the camp, in front of members of the public, including family members of the condemned.

In 1964, C completed his military sentence and was sent to the first of two civilian mines where he worked. It was here that he took his first bath in thirteen years. He was still a forced laborer in a mine 1994, when he must have been in his late sixties, in a country where thousands were already dying of famine. It was then that C somehow escaped, though he told us agonizingly little of how he managed to become the first South Korean POW to get out of North Korea after the war’s end. He returned to the Republic of Korea in October 1995.

* * * * *

It was hard to tell where C’s descriptions of his camp life ended and those of North Korean society in general began, just as it often seems to an outsider that all parts of North Korea are different levels of security in one vast prison. C appears to have had little contact with the world outside of his camp until 1964. Even on the “outside,” North Korean society as C described it tolerated no form of dissent, criticism, or religious belief. He reported that from early childhood, North Koreans were taught that Americans were sub-human, like animals with two legs, or hyenas. His final comment was to call South Korea’s abstention from the U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution on North Korea “shameful and embarrassing.

* * * * *

K was drafted into the South Korean Army in 1952, and was wounded and taken prisoner by the Chinese 11 months later, in July 1953. On the 27th of that same month, the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed. The following month, K was released from a Chinese military hospital and sent to a prison camp. It is here that K reports seeing six Americans, although again, the details are unclear. First, K gave no physical description of the men. Second, he reports no contact with them that could corroborate such details as names, home towns, or units. Finally, he reports seeing the men in August 1953, which was within the 60 days permitted for the repatriation of prisoners under Article III, paragraph 51(a). From the little detail we have, it is entirely possible that the men were repatriated as required, or even that they were not American, or even allied, prisoners.

If there is doubt about who K saw in August 1953, there is little doubt about North Korean non-compliance with the armistice. K remained in his prison camp until 1956, when he was transferred to a mine. He worked in the mines for 36 years until 1992, when he had reached an age when most men would be retiring from such a difficult and dangerous occupation. Mining takes a high toll from rock falls, asphyxiation, explosions, and working around heavy equipment. K survived all these hazards under the most dangerous conditions imaginable, without safety equipment or training. Did I mention that he did this with one leg and one eye?

Why not simply return the prisoners as agreed? K describes an order numbered “143” by Kim Il-Sung that became a household term in parts of North Korea, and which ordered the retention of thousands of South Korean prisoners for reconstruction labor. Unlike the North Korean forced laborers who toiled beside them, a “143” or his family members were never eligible for rehabilitation to government jobs and party membership. Nonetheless, K reports that the discrimination against “143’s” was slightly relaxed many years after the end of the war.

Like C, K reports having little to eat and surviving horrific working conditions. A meal generally consisted of watery cabbage soup with a handful of millet. Conditions worsened dramatically in the 1990s. K reports that North Korea’s public distribution system ceased to function for most of the population in 1992, but that miners continued to receive rations to sustain them through their hard labor. This corresponds to when, according to Dr. Andrei Lankov, the regime began telling people to eat two meals per day. K reports that mass starvation began in his area in 1993 and 1994.

From 1992 to 1995, K worked at a farm, and does not report working thereafter. In July of 2000, he escaped into China.

* * * * *

Both C and K were angry that their government had forgotten the cause for which they fought and the nature of the regime that caused their suffering. K was particularly bitter that South Korea had grown prosperous and forgotten that the suffering of his generation at the hand of men like the North Koreans had made it possible. Yet he was humble enough to apologize that he and his fellow soldiers had failed in their duty to unite the country. This was one of several emotional moments as we heard from these men, and not a few of the Koreans in the audience were wiping away tears. Such men deserve better than to be forgotten, but they were. Hundreds of their comrades allegedly remain behind in North Korea while the South Korean government fails to make their release a condition of continued trade and aid.

Contrast this with the extraordinary lengths to which the United States government will sometimes to go recover a few bone fragments from a long-lost crash site, it is astonishing that South Korea simply tolerates this with hardly a word of protest.

My thoughts return to the old woman whose hopeful search for her missing brother will go on. He is a man whose name I may never know, and who may never be found, but whom I will never forget. Later, as my son blissfully ate the Happy Meal I’d promised him that morning, I thought of the men who had made it possible to enjoy our small ration of decadence.

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Actual post date: April 23, 2005

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North Korea Freedom Week, Seoul

Thursday, April 21, 2:00 PM, Myongdong Catholic Cathedrale, downtown Seoul; Speeches about North Korean human rights; March around the church, urging the new pope to try to go to North Korea

Friday, April 22, 12:00, noon, UNHCR-Office, downtown Seoul, Demo against the inactivity of the UN regarding North Korean refugees

Thursday, April 28, 12:00, noon, Across the Chinese Consulate, downtown Seoul in front of the Dongwa Duty Free Shop, Part of the 2. worldwide protest against China`s repatriation of NK refugees

(Actual post date, 21 Apr. 2005; sorry for the late post)

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North Korea Freedom Week 2005

NORTH KOREA FREEDOM WEEK CONFIRMED PUBLIC EVENTS

FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005:
—————————————————————————————————–
CAPITOL HILL FORUM HONORING ROK POWS
12 noon: Half a Century in the Hellish Nightmare: South Korean POWs Tell Their StoryChang-Ho Cho, the first South Korean POW to escape from North Korea in 1995, and Chang-Seok Kim, who escaped in 2000, will tell their stories for the first time in the United States. (There are an estimated 500 South Korean POWs still being held in North Korea!) Hosted by Dr. Thomas Chung of the Korean POW Rescue Committee and Defense Forum Foundation ($26 fee for lunch: *RSVP Required to skswm@aol.com)Location: B-339 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. Special Guests: Ambassador James Lilley and representatives from the Embassies of the countries who fought for the democracy and freedom of the South Korean people

After the program, Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Korean War Memorial

TUESDAY, APRIL 26-SATURDAY, APRIL 30:
NORTH KOREA GENOCIDE EXHIBIT
—————————————————————————————————–
10am-4 pm DAILY North Korea Genocide Exhibit Fairfax Korean Church, 11400 Shirley Gate Court, Fairfax, Virginia 22030 Special Events at the Exhibit:

Tuesday, April 26, 8 AM, Special VIP Ribbon Cutting and Opening Ceremony including Congressman Frank Wolf, National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, Pastor Kwang-Ho Yang, Moon Gook Han; North Korean defectors Soon-Ok Lee, Ahn Hyok, Dong-Chul Choi, and Seung-Min Kim; Teruaki Masumoto and Yoichi Shimada of the Japanese Rescue Movement and other VIPs9:30 am Meet with the leadership of the North Korean defectors organizations working for human rights

Wednesday, April 27, 9:30 AM: Meet the Author, Book Signing with Soon Ok Lee, author of Eyes of the Tailless Animals, her experiences as a survivor in the North Korea political prison camps

THURSDAY, APRIL 28: FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF NORTH KOREA FREEDOM DAY
—————————————————————————————————–
9:30 AM: Meet the Author, Book Signing with Colonel Gordon Cucullo, author of Separated at Birth: How North Korea Became the Evil Twin

9:30 AM Washington, D.C., Premiere of Award Winning Documentary Seoul Train depicting plight of the North Korean refugees in China Welcome and Introduction by Congressmen Joseph Pitts (Pa) and Trent Franks (Az)with remarks and discussion led by Seoul Train Producers Jim Butterworth and Lisa SleethHosted by North Korea Freedom Coalition (RSVP to: erin_mccormick@wilberforce.org) Location: 2237 Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

12:00 Noon Protest to Stop China’s Violent Repatriation of North Korean Refugees
Hosted by the International Campaign to Block the Repatriation of the North Korean Refugees Location: Peoples’ Republic of China Embassy, 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

(Corrected!)

1:30: Congressional Hearing: International Relations Joint Subcommittee Hearing on North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, Thursday, April 28, at 1:30 PM
Hosted by Congressman James Leach, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations
Location: Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building

(Corrected!)
2:30 pm Second Screening of Seoul Train hosted by North Korea Freedom Coalition
Welcome and Introduction by Senator Sam Brownback with remarks and discussion led by Seoul Train Producers Jim Butterworth and Lisa Sleeth
Hosted by North Korea Freedom Coalition (RSVP to: erin_mccormick@wilberforce.org)
Location: 385 Russell Senate Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

7 pm: Prayer Vigil for Freedom and Human Rights for North KoreaHosted by Pastor Dong Soo Shin Location: Fairfax Korean Church Fairfax Korean Church, 11400 Shirley Gate Court, Fairfax, Virginia 22030

FRIDAY, APRIL 29
—————————————————————————————————–
9:30 AM, Meet South Koreans abducted by North Korea and leaders of the Japanese abductee organizations including Teruaki Masumoto, Deputy Secretary General of the Japanese Abducted Family Association, hosted by Mr. Jae Hyun Bae of Citizens Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and Yoichi Shimada of the Japanese Rescue Movement
North Korean Genocide Exhibit is Hosted by Pastor Kwang-Ho Yang, Sin U Nam, Suzanne Scholte, rescuer Moon Gook Han of the International Coalition to Save the NK Slaves; The Exhibit, which opened in Seoul in November 2004 for its World Tour, includes displays depicting the plight of North Korean refugees in China, political prison camps, starvation, Japanese abductees, Korean abductees and other evidence of the horrific life for North Koreans under the Kim Jong-il regime; the award winning documentaries Seoul Train (about the underground railroad for the North Korean Refugees) by Incite Productions and the BBC’s Access to Evil and other videos will be shown continuously; the famous painting by French artist Jean-Baptiste Oh “Death and Despairand satellite images provided by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea are also part of the exhibit.

10 am: Press Conference with the North Korean Defectors Organizations represented by Ahn Hyok, Seung-Min Kim and Dong-Chul ChoiHosted by Peter Hickman and the Morning Newsmaker Committee, NPCLocation: Murrow Room, National Press Club, 529 14th Street, N.W.

12 noon Capitol Hill Forum with the Leadership of the North Korean Defectors Organizations North Korean defectors will describe their work promoting human rights and freedom for North Korea and their plans for a democratic and free North Korea post Kim Jong-il. Hosted by the Defense Forum Foundation ($26 fee for lunch: *RSVP Required to skswm@aol.com) Location: 2168 Rayburn (Gold Room) House Office Building, Washington, D.C. (*RSVP required)

SATURDAY, APRIL 30
—————————————————————————————————–
7-10 pm: North Korean Human Rights Conference with North Korean defectors, special guestsHosted by the Maryland Koreans Association and Jubilee Campaign (RSVP to eunhaemary@yahoo.com)Location: New Covenant Fellowship Church,18901 Waring Station Road, Germantown, MD 20874

(Actual post date: 21 Apr 2005)

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North Korea Freedom Week, Seoul

Thursday, April 21, 2:00 PM, Myongdong Catholic Cathedrale, downtown Seoul; Speeches about North Korean human rights; March around the church, urging the new pope to try to go to North Korea

Friday, April 22, 12:00, noon, UNHCR-Office, downtown Seoul, Demo against the inactivity of the UN regarding North Korean refugees

Thursday, April 28, 12:00, noon, Across the Chinese Consulate, downtown Seoul in front of the Dongwa Duty Free Shop, Part of the 2. worldwide protest against China`s repatriation of NK refugees

(Actual post date, 21 Apr. 2005; sorry for the late post)

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Jing’s Rules of Discourse

The infamous commenter Jing of Marmot’s Hole fame has started his own blog. Not being one who subscribes to the theory that decorum requires us to conceal the abhorrent beneath a blanket of smiley equivalency, I’d like to welcome Jing to this tough room we call the blogosphere by engaging in a little Maoist criticism of what I like to call Jing’s Rules of Discourse:

1. If someone criticizes your position, go for the anti-Semitic angle:

Ahh the covetous shylock on the attack. Don’t mind [ZF], he seems to have a strange China fixation that is unhealthy to say the least.

Comment by Jing from — August 22, 2004 (Sunday) @ 2:10 pm

I wouldn’t know about calling Mr. [Thomas] Barnett a hard-nosed realist, as quite frankly he does qualify as a neo-conservative. However, unlike ersatz-Likudniks such as Krauthammer et all, policy need not be determined solely by the security concerns of Israel. . . . .

Comment by Jing from — November 13, 2004 (Saturday) @ 11:36 am.

If I was being anti-semitic, I would have called him a jew. As it stands, I was imply using a literary metaphor to more effectively and colourfuly convey a message. One does that in English yes? I understand it could be construed as anti-semitic, but as I don’t even know if the person in question is Jewish or not it makes it somewhat irrelevant.

Got a problem with that Jewgar of Jewlingrad?

Comment by Jing from — August 23, 2004 (Monday) @ 4:46 pm

2. Be a class act, and show it.

Wonsanghetto, I’m not going to even bother with civility. Where the hell did I even mention Jews at all you dumb ass?

As for Tron . . . [s]uffice it to say, I’m tired of having to repeat myself and am not even going to bother correcting your errors and will leave other people to read what they will. If they are stupid enough to believe your crap, then so be it.

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 7:03 am

You really are an idiot [ZF].

Comment by Jing from — August 23, 2004 (Monday) @ 5:29 am

I know a lot of you are American conservatives who are naturally predicated toward either a)stupidity b)china bashing but you only need to examine the facts as they stand at present to see that China has no nefarious designs on Korean territory. Instead of conjuring half baked theories about the next red menace.

Comment by Jing from — August 18, 2004 (Wednesday) @ 12:20 pm

You know what, fuck you WonsanGhetto. If you want to think I’m some sort of anti-semitic fascist racial supremacist. Go right on ahead. Maybe from now on I should simply refer to you as Hymie Kimstein and make things easier for you. For anyone else who wants to have an actual discussion that doesn’t involve flying accusations and childish non-sequiturs then proceed.

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 1:40 pm

3. Threaten peoples’ kids. People think that’s funny.

“Those who dare oppose us will stand knee deep in the blood of their children.”

Nice words, coming from someone who’ll almost certainly never have any. Starts off as aspirational (and cliche), then veers right to the kid-killing. Always an effective tool of persuasion, and chicks really dig it.

4. Remind your neighbors that you aspire to colonize them. It’s funny when you do that, too. Exhibit A:

Oy vey, you try to discuss something serious and what do I get? Naked mercantalism and sheer ignorance! . . . As for your wish to see the economic collapse of China, well I won’t bother with deconstructing this but suffice it to say”¦ Perhaps the evil Chinese militarists should seek to forelay any economic collapse by gearing their industries for war. Afterall, we need our lebensraum too and the Korean peninsula looks mighty tempting. . . .

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 5:32 am

Exhibit B: This map of China ought to get plenty of laughs in Japan and Korea. Readers in Korea, I beg of you–read Jing’s site every day and internalize its wisdom.

5. Defend the indefensable, in this case, the use by Chinese police of cattle prods against North Korean refugees:

Both those weapons the officers carried were specifically designed for security duty and not to coral [sic] cows. Cattle prods aren’t even resigned for “putting down” big animals, they are designed to irritate them enough to get them moving in a certain direction.

I fully admit that the likely fate for these would be defectors will be “unpleasant” to say the least and I wish China would not send them back to North Korea. Unfortunately nothing can be done and the world is full of unpleasantries that most people would rather not know about. . . .

Comment by Jing from — October 26, 2004 (Tuesday) @ 7:51 am

Don’t worry about a little credibility, Jing. You can always get more later.

6. Always, always, always–toe the Party line:

About the number of Chinese Catholics, I am really skeptical that there are actually several million “underground” Catholics as is claimed. There really is no statistical data to validate this (as far as I am aware) and I’ve never heard anyone actually provide any evidence to substantiate this figure. [Link]

No statistical evidence on the number of religious dissidents in a repressive fascist state? Nope, I can’t explain that.

7. When confronted with uncomfortable facts, run.

Jing–probably the most effective propagandist the CIA never paid.

Continue Reading

Jing’s Rules of Discourse

The infamous commenter Jing of Marmot’s Hole fame has started his own blog. Not being one who subscribes to the theory that decorum requires us to conceal the abhorrent beneath a blanket of smiley equivalency, I’d like to welcome Jing to this tough room we call the blogosphere by engaging in a little Maoist criticism of what I like to call Jing’s Rules of Discourse:

1. If someone criticizes your position, go for the anti-Semitic angle:

Ahh the covetous shylock on the attack. Don’t mind [ZF], he seems to have a strange China fixation that is unhealthy to say the least.

Comment by Jing from — August 22, 2004 (Sunday) @ 2:10 pm

I wouldn’t know about calling Mr. [Thomas] Barnett a hard-nosed realist, as quite frankly he does qualify as a neo-conservative. However, unlike ersatz-Likudniks such as Krauthammer et all, policy need not be determined solely by the security concerns of Israel. . . . .

Comment by Jing from — November 13, 2004 (Saturday) @ 11:36 am.

If I was being anti-semitic, I would have called him a jew. As it stands, I was imply using a literary metaphor to more effectively and colourfuly convey a message. One does that in English yes? I understand it could be construed as anti-semitic, but as I don’t even know if the person in question is Jewish or not it makes it somewhat irrelevant.

Got a problem with that Jewgar of Jewlingrad?

Comment by Jing from — August 23, 2004 (Monday) @ 4:46 pm

2. Be a class act, and show it.

Wonsanghetto, I’m not going to even bother with civility. Where the hell did I even mention Jews at all you dumb ass?

As for Tron . . . [s]uffice it to say, I’m tired of having to repeat myself and am not even going to bother correcting your errors and will leave other people to read what they will. If they are stupid enough to believe your crap, then so be it.

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 7:03 am

You really are an idiot [ZF].

Comment by Jing from — August 23, 2004 (Monday) @ 5:29 am

I know a lot of you are American conservatives who are naturally predicated toward either a)stupidity b)china bashing but you only need to examine the facts as they stand at present to see that China has no nefarious designs on Korean territory. Instead of conjuring half baked theories about the next red menace.

Comment by Jing from — August 18, 2004 (Wednesday) @ 12:20 pm

You know what, fuck you WonsanGhetto. If you want to think I’m some sort of anti-semitic fascist racial supremacist. Go right on ahead. Maybe from now on I should simply refer to you as Hymie Kimstein and make things easier for you. For anyone else who wants to have an actual discussion that doesn’t involve flying accusations and childish non-sequiturs then proceed.

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 1:40 pm

3. Threaten peoples’ kids. People think that’s funny.

“Those who dare oppose us will stand knee deep in the blood of their children.”

Nice words, coming from someone who’ll almost certainly never have any. Starts off as aspirational (and cliche), then veers right to the kid-killing. Always an effective tool of persuasion, and chicks really dig it.

4. Remind your neighbors that you aspire to colonize them. It’s funny when you do that, too. Exhibit A:

Oy vey, you try to discuss something serious and what do I get? Naked mercantalism and sheer ignorance! . . . As for your wish to see the economic collapse of China, well I won’t bother with deconstructing this but suffice it to say”¦ Perhaps the evil Chinese militarists should seek to forelay any economic collapse by gearing their industries for war. Afterall, we need our lebensraum too and the Korean peninsula looks mighty tempting. . . .

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 5:32 am

Exhibit B: This map of China ought to get plenty of laughs in Japan and Korea. Readers in Korea, I beg of you–read Jing’s site every day and internalize its wisdom.

5. Defend the indefensable, in this case, the use by Chinese police of cattle prods against North Korean refugees:

Both those weapons the officers carried were specifically designed for security duty and not to coral [sic] cows. Cattle prods aren’t even resigned for “putting down” big animals, they are designed to irritate them enough to get them moving in a certain direction.

I fully admit that the likely fate for these would be defectors will be “unpleasant” to say the least and I wish China would not send them back to North Korea. Unfortunately nothing can be done and the world is full of unpleasantries that most people would rather not know about. . . .

Comment by Jing from — October 26, 2004 (Tuesday) @ 7:51 am

Don’t worry about a little credibility, Jing. You can always get more later.

6. Always, always, always–toe the Party line:

About the number of Chinese Catholics, I am really skeptical that there are actually several million “underground” Catholics as is claimed. There really is no statistical data to validate this (as far as I am aware) and I’ve never heard anyone actually provide any evidence to substantiate this figure. [Link]

No statistical evidence on the number of religious dissidents in a repressive fascist state? Nope, I can’t explain that.

7. When confronted with uncomfortable facts, run.

Jing–probably the most effective propagandist the CIA never paid.

Continue Reading

110992555183489837

ADVANCE DEMOCRACY ACT

SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

The ADVANCE Democracy Act reaffirms that the promotion of democracy, freedom, and fundamental rights constitutes an essential element of U.S. foreign policy; strengthens the ability of the Department of State to promote of democracy, particularly with respect to non-democratic countries; and requires a study of U.S. democracy assistance in order to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.

In particular, the Act includes the following key provisions:

  • Declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote freedom and democracy as a fundamental component of U.S. foreign policy, to see an end to dictatorial and other non-democratic forms of government, and to strengthen alliances with other democratic countries to better promote and defend shared values and ideals.
  • Establishes in statute the Under Secretary for Global Affairs with a strong mandate to promote democracy and fundamental freedoms; expands the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to specifically include democracy promotion; and enhances the Human Rights and Democracy Fund controlled by that Bureau.
  • Establishes a new Office of Democracy Movements and Transitions and separate Regional Democracy Hubs to be points of contact for democracy movements and to promote democratic transitions and democratic consolidation, and creates a Democracy Promotion Advisory Board to provide outside expertise to the Department of State on democracy promotion and to conduct a study on the efficiency and effectiveness of current U.S. democracy assistance.
  • Requires the Secretary of State to prepare an annual report on democracy that will include a specific action plan, developed in consultation with local organizations, individuals and movements, to promote and achieve transition to democracy in non-democratic countries.
  • Provides for U.S. embassies to be “islands of freedom” and encourages U.S. ambassadors to promote democracy in non-democratic countries, including by meeting with representatives of democracy movements and speaking out on democracy and human rights in such countries, particularly at universities.
  • Provides training for State Department personnel on democracy promotion and links promotion and performance awards to effective advocacy and promotion of democracy, particularly in non-democratic countries.
  • Establishes a Congressional Democracy Award for U.S. government officials who have made an extraordinary effort to promote democracy.
  • Provides for increased efforts to work with other democratic countries to promote democracy including bilaterally, with the UN and related organizations, the Community of Democracies, and the new Democracy Transition Center being established by European counties in Hungary.
  • Requires translation of the annual report on democracy, the country reports on human rights practices, the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, and the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, and requires the creation of a democracy and human rights Internet web site collecting these and other materials related to the promotion of democracy and human rights.

My own impressions of the press conference start here.

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What They Said

The four co-sponsors present, as follows:

  • Sen. John McCain, R, Arizona
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, D, Connecticut
  • Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Virginia
  • Rep. Tom Lantos, D, California

I walked in during their introductory statements, maybe five minutes late.

Rep. Wolf was speaking when I walked in. Of the four congressmen, he’s the one you’re least likely to have heard of, which is a shame. Rep. Wolf seemed to belong in the presence of giants and spoke cogently about the importance of what Natan Sharansky had said in his book. I’d add that I’d have more to tell you about what he said, but for the snippy press corp byaatch whose annoying questions seemed aimed at outing me as one of Jeff Gannon‘s boys (private lives are apparently newsworthy again; where will the Wheel of Newsworthiness stop next week?). I started scribbling and she eventually gave up. It’s not like they going to haul me out of a press conference about freedom in front of Al-Jazeera, right?

Tom Lantos was hawking a book, too, Breaking the Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Lantos told the journos about his experience of having actually lived under a “fascist” regime, and contrasted what happened in his Hungarian homeland in 1956 versus what happened in 1989. To Lantos, the difference was the support of democratic nations, as he also believes it was in the Ukraine. For a Democrat, Lantos was remarkable for his willingness to go out of his way to praise President Bush’s “Braveheart” inauguration speech. He directly critcized “cynics” who didn’t believe that the United States could or should spread democracy to other countries. The two countries Rep. Lantos mentioned by name were Belarus and North Korea. Oh, and he said, “Lebanon needs our help.”

First Question: North Korea

The first question was about North Korea, and came from Sun Myung-Moon’s former holding, the Segye Ilbo (one of the Korean print media’s most reliable instigators of anti-American hack journalism). The question was much better than the paper: in essence–given that the bill depends heavily on funding and organizing pro-democracy activities through our embassies, how could this bill have much effect in places like North Korea where the U.S. has no embassy?
John McCain took the question. He came right out of the gate by stating that North Korea was one of the targets of this bill–“among the most repressive” regimes on earth–and that it was also likely to be among the last nations to be free. He drew a few laughs when he contrasted conditions there to the “vibrant democracy” of South Korea, adding that it was “sometimes vibrant.”too

Joe Lieberman also responded, noting that the bill creates what he called “regional democracy hubs” and provides greatly expanded funding for pro-democracy NGOs, which don’t work out of embassies in any event.

Second Question: May I see your target list?

In response to a rather rambling and disjointed question from a Russian reporter, Lantos stated that he was “optimistic” about North Korea, given the long-term historical trend. I silently prayed that he’d say, “It’s inebbitable!,” but in vain. Paging back mentally to the previous question, Rep. Lantos noted that the United States had just negotiated its way back to Libya, and that with sufficient time, American values would penetrate Libyan society and politics. He predicted that eventually, Libya would hold free elections. Lantos stressed the fact that democratizing the world (or most of it, I suppose he meant) would take many years. He noted the odd fact that the U.S. State Department has an office devoted to human rights but none to devoted to democracy, which isn’t the same thing, of course.

Representative Wolf talked about nations that had been freed, where we only later discovered the surprising extent to which those living inside heard the words spoken by our own leaders (here, it wasn’t hard to guess what he was thinking). He brought up the fact that the United States had no diplomatic relations with Albania before the overthrow of its goverment (to which I’d add that the Albanian government was nearly as oppressive as North Korea’s).

Third Question: When did you stop drinking the blood of Arab children?

Al-Jazeera, whose correspondent no doubt slid into the room like a minnow through pondwater, got the most laughs of the day when he asked, “Can we fairly say that America will be a friend of all opposition groups now?” McCain took the question, sidestepped the inanities, and related his belief that our message was already getting through to the Middle East, but that building democracy there would take a long time. Lieberman was more indulgent, admitting that America had often “mouthed the language” of democracy in the past–especially in the Middle East–without much sincerity. No argument from me on that one. Lieberman strongly praised President Bush for his SOTU statements challenging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform themselves.

Fourth Question: North Korea

The next question was from Yonhap. The reporter was a nice guy, but his question was predictably stupid, which turned out fine given that John McCain took it. How, the reporter asked, might this bill affect the six-party talks, given North Korea’s unpleasant reaction to the North Korean Human Rights Act (Yonhap’s guy apparently didn’t get the memo about those talks, and yeah, I got this memo myself, to which I say, “So?“). Wouldn’t this make North Korea angry? McCain said that while he listens to what many world leaders say, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to statements from the Dear Leader myself.”

Fifth Question: Chairman Mao, Great Leader!

The hands-down dumbest question of the day was the ChiCom reporter’s faithful parroting of the Partei doctrine, demanding to know what business the United States had demanding that other countries respect the rights of their people, when . . . Abu Ghraib! He even had the brass balls to attack the United States for its prison conditions (cough! cough!). McCain handled it just right, laughing off the prison question, then conceding that the United States is not perfect, and saying that it has a system that holds abusers accountable. The world can judge whether the United States is protecting the rights of its citizens, McCain said, and flipping on his irony switch, noted that the world could reach the same judgments about China.

Sixth Question: OK, I actually didn’t hear the sixth question.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t paying attention.

It came from a reporter from the Middle East News Service, and the answer from John McCain was that Syria should leave Lebanon ASAP and stop supporting terrorists

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How the Media Are Blowing It–My Personal Observation from a Senate Press Conference

Be very afraid for the security of this country, for just as the scandal over Jeff Gannon started to die down, I’ve proven again that any schmoe without the slightest big media imprimatur can wander right into a high-level government press conference. And it’s not the security stuff you ought to be worried about; I went through security three times, and by all appearances, it works very efficiently. It’s the fact that I’ve learned how weak a weak link the press is between the voters and the votees.

All I broke through (quite accidentally, as it turned out) was the closed shop of the press, who for all their obsession with exclusivity, don’t actually appear to have reported anything. They’re using taxpayer funds to turn the U.S. Capitol into their own closed shop, into which none shall pass!

Let us review how the media’s monolopy served our understanding of this historic day:

Exhibit A: The New York Times. Nope, not there.
Exhibit B: The Washington Post. Nothing but yawners about things like the WTO and cotton, and this prominent story on the Chinese party line on the U.S. and democracy.
Exhibit C: Al-Jazeera. They were there, too. Nothing.
Exhibit D: Yonhap. There. They covered it, but forgot to append the words “this is an editorial.”
Exhibit E: BBC: They were invited. So where’s the story?

At least I know Jeff Gannon gets paid for. As an added bonus, he’s also much more honest about his biases. Plus, he’s screwing other, consenting people. Gannon’s still on the little mind of Frank Rich (a theater critic!), who’s justifiably concerned that ABCNews is running two-hour specials on UFOs and that few reporters report anymore, but doesn’t get it through his skull that some competition in the marketplace of information–even if from the likes of Gannon and his many counterparts on the left–might actually force the “real” reporters off their lardy glutes.

Wanna hear more about the officious, plasticky parasites? The snotty lady at the front desk, on learning that I’m not from any of the big media, was energized by my offhand statement that the government was certainly not looking very accessible that day. This brought down an icy crapstorm about the rules being set by the press corps, not the government. At this point, I was gripped by the obvious fact that I happened to be standing in the United-States-Freaking-Capitol Building.

“So does that mean I get to decide who can hang out in my neighbor’s den?”

“Oh. You apparently have a problem with the policy, sir.”

“No lady. I don’t have a problem, I have what’s known as ‘an opinion.’ And I’m now late for this conference.”

This, she did not like. Nor does it help matters when I concede that she’s not the one who makes the rules. We have obviously found a person who believes she makes the rules. By now, I can see the restraining order:

By order of this Court, you will not approach within 100 yards of:

The United States Senate
___________________________

A real biyaatch. The final indignity is when she tells me that I can only go to a “listening room” that has an audio speaker, but no video screen. C-SPAN would be better than this, but it’s all I have. Resigned not to miss any more of the conference, I head for the Ordinary Schmoe Sequestration Area, but I’ve never done directions well (and thus never ask for them, as my wife will confirm). Through a door on my left, I see a bunch of people in a room listening to something. Must be it. I walk in, and there, fifteen feet in front of me, is Frank Wolf standing between John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Call me “the accidental journalist.” Works for me!

Continued here.

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The ADVANCE Democracy Act–What I Saw at the Press Conference

The four co-sponsors present, as follows:

  • Sen. John McCain, R, Arizona
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, D, Connecticut
  • Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Virginia
  • Rep. Tom Lantos, D, California

I walked in during their introductory statements, maybe five minutes late.

Rep. Frank Wolf was speaking when I walked in. Of the four congressmen, he’s the one you’re least likely to have heard of, which is a shame. Frank Wolf seemed to belong in the presence of giants as he spoke cogently about the importance of the ideas Natan Sharansky had discussed in his book. I’d add that I’d have more to tell you about what he said, but for yet another snippy press corp byaatch who started in with some annoying questions–who are you with? are you sure you’re not from the Talon News Service? (take note: private lives are apparently newsworthy again; where will the Wheel of Newsworthiness stop next week?). I started scribbling stuff and she eventually gave up.

It’s not like they going to haul me out of a press conference about freedom in front of Al-Jazeera and the Red Chinese, right?

Tom Lantos was hawking a book, too, Breaking the Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Lantos told the journos about his experience of having actually lived under a “fascist” regime, and contrasted what happened in his Hungarian homeland in 1956 versus what happened in 1989. To Lantos, the difference was the support of democratic nations, as he also believes it was in the Ukraine. For a Democrat, Lantos was remarkable for his willingness to go out of his way to praise President Bush’s “Braveheart” inauguration speech. He directly critcized “cynics” who didn’t believe that the United States could or should spread democracy to other countries. The two countries Rep. Lantos mentioned by name were Belarus and North Korea. Oh, and he said, “Lebanon needs our help.”

First Question: North Korea

The first question was about North Korea, and came from Sun Myung-Moon’s former holding, the Segye Ilbo (one of the Korean print media’s most reliable instigators of anti-American hack journalism). The question was much better than the paper: in essence–given that the bill depends heavily on funding and organizing pro-democracy activities through our embassies, how could this bill have much effect in places like North Korea where the U.S. has no embassy?
John McCain took the question. He came right out of the gate by stating that North Korea was one of the targets of this bill–“among the most repressive” regimes on earth–and that it was also likely to be among the last nations to be free. He drew a few laughs when he contrasted conditions there to the “vibrant democracy” of South Korea, adding that it was “sometimes too vibrant.”

Joe Lieberman also responded, noting that the bill creates what he called “regional democracy hubs” and provides greatly expanded funding for pro-democracy NGOs, which don’t work out of embassies in any event.

Second Question: May I see your target list?

In response to a rather rambling and disjointed question from a Russian reporter, Tom Lantos was “optimistic” about North Korea, given the long-term historical trend. I silently prayed that he’d say, “It’s inebbitable!,” but in vain. Paging back mentally to the previous question, Rep. Lantos noted that the United States had just negotiated its way back into Libya, and that with sufficient time, American values would penetrate Libyan society and politics. He predicted that eventually, Libya would hold free elections. Lantos stressed the fact that democratizing the world (or most of it, I suppose he meant) would take many years. He noted the odd fact that the U.S. State Department has an office devoted to human rights but none to devoted to democracy, which isn’t the same thing, of course.

Representative Wolf talked about nations that had been freed, where we only later discovered the surprising extent to which those living inside heard the words spoken by our own leaders (here, it wasn’t hard to guess what he was thinking). He brought up the fact that the United States had no diplomatic relations with Albania before the overthrow of its goverment (to which I’d add that the Albanian government was nearly as oppressive as North Korea’s).

Third Question: When did you stop drinking the blood of Arab children?

Al-Jazeera, whose correspondent no doubt slid into the room like a minnow through pondwater, got the most laughs of the day when he asked, “Can we fairly say that America will be a friend of all opposition groups now?” McCain took the question, sidestepped the inanities, and related his belief that our message was already getting through to the Middle East, but that building democracy there would take a long time. Lieberman was more indulgent, admitting that America had often “mouthed the language” of democracy in the past–especially in the Middle East–without much sincerity. No argument from me on that one. Lieberman strongly praised President Bush for his SOTU statements challenging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform themselves.

Fourth Question: North Korea

The next question was from Yonhap. The reporter was a nice guy, but his question was predictably stupid, which turned out fine given that John McCain took it. How, the reporter asked, might this bill affect the six-party talks, given North Korea’s unpleasant reaction to the North Korean Human Rights Act (Yonhap’s guy apparently didn’t get the memo about those talks, and yeah, I got this memo myself, to which I say, “So?”). Wouldn’t this make North Korea angry? McCain said that while he listens to what many world leaders say, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to statements from the Dear Leader myself.”

Think the Yonhap guy put any of this in his story, or much of anything else about the bill? Think again.

Fifth Question: Chairman Mao Great Leader!

The hands-down dumbest question of the day was the ChiCom reporter’s faithful parroting of the Partei doctrine, demanding to know what business the United States had demanding that other countries respect the rights of their people, when . . . Abu Ghraib! He even had the brass balls to attack the United States for its prison conditions (cough! cough!). McCain handled it just right, laughing off the prison question, then conceding that the United States is not perfect, and saying that it has a system that holds abusers accountable. The world can judge whether the United States is protecting the rights of its citizens, McCain said, and flipping on his irony switch, noted that the world could reach the same judgments about China.

Sixth Question: OK, I actually didn’t hear the sixth question.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t paying attention.

It came from a reporter from the Middle East News Service, and the answer from John McCain was that Syria should leave Lebanon ASAP and stop supporting terrorists.

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ADVANCE DEMOCRACY ACT

SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

The ADVANCE Democracy Act reaffirms that the promotion of democracy, freedom, and fundamental rights constitutes an essential element of U.S. foreign policy; strengthens the ability of the Department of State to promote of democracy, particularly with respect to non-democratic countries; and requires a study of U.S. democracy assistance in order to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.

In particular, the Act includes the following key provisions:

  • Declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote freedom and democracy as a fundamental component of U.S. foreign policy, to see an end to dictatorial and other non-democratic forms of government, and to strengthen alliances with other democratic countries to better promote and defend shared values and ideals.
  • Establishes in statute the Under Secretary for Global Affairs with a strong mandate to promote democracy and fundamental freedoms; expands the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to specifically include democracy promotion; and enhances the Human Rights and Democracy Fund controlled by that Bureau.
  • Establishes a new Office of Democracy Movements and Transitions and separate Regional Democracy Hubs to be points of contact for democracy movements and to promote democratic transitions and democratic consolidation, and creates a Democracy Promotion Advisory Board to provide outside expertise to the Department of State on democracy promotion and to conduct a study on the efficiency and effectiveness of current U.S. democracy assistance.
  • Requires the Secretary of State to prepare an annual report on democracy that will include a specific action plan, developed in consultation with local organizations, individuals and movements, to promote and achieve transition to democracy in non-democratic countries.
  • Provides for U.S. embassies to be “islands of freedom” and encourages U.S. ambassadors to promote democracy in non-democratic countries, including by meeting with representatives of democracy movements and speaking out on democracy and human rights in such countries, particularly at universities.
  • Provides training for State Department personnel on democracy promotion and links promotion and performance awards to effective advocacy and promotion of democracy, particularly in non-democratic countries.
  • Establishes a Congressional Democracy Award for U.S. government officials who have made an extraordinary effort to promote democracy.
  • Provides for increased efforts to work with other democratic countries to promote democracy including bilaterally, with the UN and related organizations, the Community of Democracies, and the new Democracy Transition Center being established by European counties in Hungary.
  • Requires translation of the annual report on democracy, the country reports on human rights practices, the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, and the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, and requires the creation of a democracy and human rights Internet web site collecting these and other materials related to the promotion of democracy and human rights.

My own impressions of the press conference start here.

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What They Said

The four co-sponsors present, as follows:

  • Sen. John McCain, R, Arizona
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman, D, Connecticut
  • Rep. Frank Wolf, R, Virginia
  • Rep. Tom Lantos, D, California

I walked in during their introductory statements, maybe five minutes late.

Rep. Wolf was speaking when I walked in. Of the four congressmen, he’s the one you’re least likely to have heard of, which is a shame. Rep. Wolf seemed to belong in the presence of giants and spoke cogently about the importance of what Natan Sharansky had said in his book. I’d add that I’d have more to tell you about what he said, but for the snippy press corp byaatch whose annoying questions seemed aimed at outing me as one of Jeff Gannon‘s boys (private lives are apparently newsworthy again; where will the Wheel of Newsworthiness stop next week?). I started scribbling and she eventually gave up. It’s not like they going to haul me out of a press conference about freedom in front of Al-Jazeera, right?

Tom Lantos was hawking a book, too, Breaking the Axis of Evil by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Lantos told the journos about his experience of having actually lived under a “fascist” regime, and contrasted what happened in his Hungarian homeland in 1956 versus what happened in 1989. To Lantos, the difference was the support of democratic nations, as he also believes it was in the Ukraine. For a Democrat, Lantos was remarkable for his willingness to go out of his way to praise President Bush’s “Braveheart” inauguration speech. He directly critcized “cynics” who didn’t believe that the United States could or should spread democracy to other countries. The two countries Rep. Lantos mentioned by name were Belarus and North Korea. Oh, and he said, “Lebanon needs our help.”

First Question: North Korea

The first question was about North Korea, and came from Sun Myung-Moon’s former holding, the Segye Ilbo (one of the Korean print media’s most reliable instigators of anti-American hack journalism). The question was much better than the paper: in essence–given that the bill depends heavily on funding and organizing pro-democracy activities through our embassies, how could this bill have much effect in places like North Korea where the U.S. has no embassy?
John McCain took the question. He came right out of the gate by stating that North Korea was one of the targets of this bill–“among the most repressive” regimes on earth–and that it was also likely to be among the last nations to be free. He drew a few laughs when he contrasted conditions there to the “vibrant democracy” of South Korea, adding that it was “sometimes vibrant.”too

Joe Lieberman also responded, noting that the bill creates what he called “regional democracy hubs” and provides greatly expanded funding for pro-democracy NGOs, which don’t work out of embassies in any event.

Second Question: May I see your target list?

In response to a rather rambling and disjointed question from a Russian reporter, Lantos stated that he was “optimistic” about North Korea, given the long-term historical trend. I silently prayed that he’d say, “It’s inebbitable!,” but in vain. Paging back mentally to the previous question, Rep. Lantos noted that the United States had just negotiated its way back to Libya, and that with sufficient time, American values would penetrate Libyan society and politics. He predicted that eventually, Libya would hold free elections. Lantos stressed the fact that democratizing the world (or most of it, I suppose he meant) would take many years. He noted the odd fact that the U.S. State Department has an office devoted to human rights but none to devoted to democracy, which isn’t the same thing, of course.

Representative Wolf talked about nations that had been freed, where we only later discovered the surprising extent to which those living inside heard the words spoken by our own leaders (here, it wasn’t hard to guess what he was thinking). He brought up the fact that the United States had no diplomatic relations with Albania before the overthrow of its goverment (to which I’d add that the Albanian government was nearly as oppressive as North Korea’s).

Third Question: When did you stop drinking the blood of Arab children?

Al-Jazeera, whose correspondent no doubt slid into the room like a minnow through pondwater, got the most laughs of the day when he asked, “Can we fairly say that America will be a friend of all opposition groups now?” McCain took the question, sidestepped the inanities, and related his belief that our message was already getting through to the Middle East, but that building democracy there would take a long time. Lieberman was more indulgent, admitting that America had often “mouthed the language” of democracy in the past–especially in the Middle East–without much sincerity. No argument from me on that one. Lieberman strongly praised President Bush for his SOTU statements challenging Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform themselves.

Fourth Question: North Korea

The next question was from Yonhap. The reporter was a nice guy, but his question was predictably stupid, which turned out fine given that John McCain took it. How, the reporter asked, might this bill affect the six-party talks, given North Korea’s unpleasant reaction to the North Korean Human Rights Act (Yonhap’s guy apparently didn’t get the memo about those talks, and yeah, I got this memo myself, to which I say, “So?“). Wouldn’t this make North Korea angry? McCain said that while he listens to what many world leaders say, “I don’t pay a lot of attention to statements from the Dear Leader myself.”

Fifth Question: Chairman Mao, Great Leader!

The hands-down dumbest question of the day was the ChiCom reporter’s faithful parroting of the Partei doctrine, demanding to know what business the United States had demanding that other countries respect the rights of their people, when . . . Abu Ghraib! He even had the brass balls to attack the United States for its prison conditions (cough! cough!). McCain handled it just right, laughing off the prison question, then conceding that the United States is not perfect, and saying that it has a system that holds abusers accountable. The world can judge whether the United States is protecting the rights of its citizens, McCain said, and flipping on his irony switch, noted that the world could reach the same judgments about China.

Sixth Question: OK, I actually didn’t hear the sixth question.
It’s entirely possible that I just wasn’t paying attention.

It came from a reporter from the Middle East News Service, and the answer from John McCain was that Syria should leave Lebanon ASAP and stop supporting terrorists

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How the Media Are Blowing It–My Personal Observation from a Senate Press Conference

Be very afraid for the security of this country, for just as the scandal over Jeff Gannon started to die down, I’ve proven again that any schmoe without the slightest big media imprimatur can wander right into a high-level government press conference. And it’s not the security stuff you ought to be worried about; I went through security three times, and by all appearances, it works very efficiently. It’s the fact that I’ve learned how weak a weak link the press is between the voters and the votees.

All I broke through (quite accidentally, as it turned out) was the closed shop of the press, who for all their obsession with exclusivity, don’t actually appear to have reported anything. They’re using taxpayer funds to turn the U.S. Capitol into their own closed shop, into which none shall pass!

Let us review how the media’s monolopy served our understanding of this historic day:

Exhibit A: The New York Times. Nope, not there.
Exhibit B: The Washington Post. Nothing but yawners about things like the WTO and cotton, and this prominent story on the Chinese party line on the U.S. and democracy.
Exhibit C: Al-Jazeera. They were there, too. Nothing.
Exhibit D: Yonhap. There. They covered it, but forgot to append the words “this is an editorial.”
Exhibit E: BBC: They were invited. So where’s the story?

At least I know Jeff Gannon gets paid for. As an added bonus, he’s also much more honest about his biases. Plus, he’s screwing other, consenting people. Gannon’s still on the little mind of Frank Rich (a theater critic!), who’s justifiably concerned that ABCNews is running two-hour specials on UFOs and that few reporters report anymore, but doesn’t get it through his skull that some competition in the marketplace of information–even if from the likes of Gannon and his many counterparts on the left–might actually force the “real” reporters off their lardy glutes.

Wanna hear more about the officious, plasticky parasites? The snotty lady at the front desk, on learning that I’m not from any of the big media, was energized by my offhand statement that the government was certainly not looking very accessible that day. This brought down an icy crapstorm about the rules being set by the press corps, not the government. At this point, I was gripped by the obvious fact that I happened to be standing in the United-States-Freaking-Capitol Building.

“So does that mean I get to decide who can hang out in my neighbor’s den?”

“Oh. You apparently have a problem with the policy, sir.”

“No lady. I don’t have a problem, I have what’s known as ‘an opinion.’ And I’m now late for this conference.”

This, she did not like. Nor does it help matters when I concede that she’s not the one who makes the rules. We have obviously found a person who believes she makes the rules. By now, I can see the restraining order:

By order of this Court, you will not approach within 100 yards of:

The United States Senate
___________________________

A real biyaatch. The final indignity is when she tells me that I can only go to a “listening room” that has an audio speaker, but no video screen. C-SPAN would be better than this, but it’s all I have. Resigned not to miss any more of the conference, I head for the Ordinary Schmoe Sequestration Area, but I’ve never done directions well (and thus never ask for them, as my wife will confirm). Through a door on my left, I see a bunch of people in a room listening to something. Must be it. I walk in, and there, fifteen feet in front of me, is Frank Wolf standing between John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Call me “the accidental journalist.” Works for me!

Continued here.

Continue Reading

How the Media Are Blowing It–My Personal Observation from a Senate Press Conference

Be very afraid for the security of this country, for just as the scandal over Jeff Gannon started to die down, I’ve proven again that any schmoe without the slightest big media imprimatur can wander right into a high-level government press conference. And it’s not the security stuff you ought to be worried about; I went through security three times, and by all appearances, it works very efficiently. It’s the fact that I’ve learned how weak a weak link the press is between the voters and the votees.

All I broke through (quite accidentally, as it turned out) was the closed shop of the press, who for all their obsession with exclusivity, don’t actually appear to have reported anything. They’re using taxpayer funds to turn the U.S. Capitol into their own closed shop, into which none shall pass!

Let us review how the media’s monolopy served our understanding of this historic day:

Exhibit A: The New York Times. Nope, not there.
Exhibit B: The Washington Post. Nothing but yawners about things like the WTO and cotton, and this prominent story on the Chinese party line on the U.S. and democracy.
Exhibit C: Al-Jazeera. They were there, too. Nothing.
Exhibit D: Yonhap. There. They covered it, but forgot to append the words “this is an editorial.”
Exhibit E: BBC: They were invited. So where’s the story?

At least I know Jeff Gannon gets paid for. As an added bonus, he’s also much more honest about his biases. Plus, he’s screwing other, consenting people. Gannon’s still on the little mind of Frank Rich (a theater critic!), who’s justifiably concerned that ABCNews is running two-hour specials on UFOs and that few reporters report anymore, but doesn’t get it through his skull that some competition in the marketplace of information–even if from the likes of Gannon and his many counterparts on the left–might actually force the “real” reporters off their lardy glutes.

Wanna hear more about the officious, plasticky parasites? The snotty lady at the front desk, on learning that I’m not from any of the big media, was energized by my offhand statement that the government was certainly not looking very accessible that day. This brought down an icy crapstorm about the rules being set by the press corps, not the government. At this point, I was gripped by the obvious fact that I happened to be standing in the United-States-Freaking-Capitol Building.

“So does that mean I get to decide who can hang out in my neighbor’s den?”

“Oh. You apparently have a problem with the policy, sir.”

“No lady. I don’t have a problem, I have what’s known as ‘an opinion.’ And I’m now late for this conference.”

This, she did not like. Nor does it help matters when I concede that she’s not the one who makes the rules. We have obviously found a person who believes she makes the rules. By now, I can see the restraining order:

By order of this Court, you will not approach within 100 yards of:

The United States Senate
___________________________

A real biyaatch. The final indignity is when she tells me that I can only go to a “listening room” that has an audio speaker, but no video screen. C-SPAN would be better than this, but it’s all I have. Resigned not to miss any more of the conference, I head for the Ordinary Schmoe Sequestration Area, but I’ve never done directions well (and thus never ask for them, as my wife will confirm). Through a door on my left, I see a bunch of people in a room listening to something. Must be it. I walk in, and there, fifteen feet in front of me, is Frank Wolf standing between John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Call me “the accidental journalist.” Works for me!

Continued here.

Continue Reading