LiNK Press Release (Continued)

Liberation in North Korea (www.linkglobal.org), a nationwide movement that includes several thousand American college students and professionals, will be joined by a coalition of leading American and South Korean organizations to demand China’s release of the 62 North Korean refugees and 2 South Korean activists who were arrested on Oct. 26, 2004 at 4am.

These 62 North Korean refugees are in danger of being sent back to North Korea,where they may be executed. These refugees were reportedly planning to seek asylum in a foreign embassy in Beijing. Intent to defect and contact with South Koreans are considered severe treasonous crimes in North Korea, punishable by execution or detention in a forced-labor camp. If China forcibly repatriates these 62 North Koreans, they will knowingly return the refugees as China has in the recent years repeatedly and blatantly violated refugee conventions by forcibly repatriating thousands of refugees to North Korea. (China is a signatory member of the 1951 U.N. Convention on Refugees.)

China has also imprisoned foreign humanitarian aid workers. In the most recent public statement, the Chinese foreign ministry referred to these aid workers as “snake-heads” and warned of grave punishment for the two South Korean activists in custody. These activists are members of a South Korean human rights group, the Democracy Network Against the North Korean Gulag. Their work, sheltering refugees and providing humanitarian aid, is protected by UN mandates that safeguard human rights defenders.

China cannot avoid international scrutiny for her treatment of North Koreans and their human rights defenders. On November 2, 2004, thousands from around the world will speak out on behalf of the imprisoned North Koreans seeking refuge.

Please join LiNK in our protest against this grave situation by–

1. Participating in a physical protest in front of the China Mission to the UN office in NYC on November 1, 2004 at 1:00 PM.

2. Participating in a simultaneous virtual protest from your home or office by calling, faxing, and emailing the offices below, beginning at 1:00 pm US Eastern Standard Time and 3:00 am Greenwich Mean Time.

Let the concern of the international community for the welfare of the 67 be heard!

Press contacts for this protest:
Jennifer Jun 267.243.7302 jennifer@linkglobal.org
Adrian Hong 203.980.6543 adrian@linkglobal.org

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About This Picture

This NASA low light level image of the Korean peninsula was taken on the  night of  April 15, 2001.  I first saw this image when I was serving with the Army in Korea, and it became popular to put this image,  and perhaps  other similar images  you can find on the  Web, on soldiers’ farewell plaques.  I found this particular  image  here, at the Web site of the left-of-center Federation of American Scientists, after Christopher Hitchens linked it in his excellent article, “Worse than 1984:  North Korea, Slave State

One curious thing about the original is that you actually can see much more light off the coasts near Pohang and Pusan than you can on land in North Korea.  I believe those off-shore light sources are squid boats, which attract their catch with bright lights.  Anyway, that’s my working theory.

On  occasion, I get e-mails accusing me of altering this image,  suggesting that I dimmed or grayed out  the  lights of Pyongyang or other cities in the North.  If you examine the original, you can see that’s not the case; in any event, a small amount of light is visible in Pyongyang.   I did make other stylistic alternations to the image, most of them obvious.  I cut the Korean peninsula out of the original image, changed the surrounding areas to transparent, changed the eerie green boundary  lines  to gray, and restored  the extreme northeastern parts of North Hamgyeong Province, which had been cut out of the original image.  That’s it.

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Vollertsen Interview Part II, On Arirang, Food Aid, and the General Assembly Vote on N. Korean Human Rights

Q: So whatever happened with the planned demonstration at the Arirang Festival?

Just nature: The Kashmir earthquake – and some medical emergency call[s] – but maybe the timing will be even better during the APEC summit.

Q: What is your latest word on the food situation in North Korea?

Kim Jong-Il is using food as a weapon against his own people – there is enough food in North Korea for the elite – there is no need for hunger in the communities in the country side which will not get any more state rations when they are opposing Pyongyang.

Q: When we speak of peaceful solutions in North Korea, can you suggest one that doesn’t simply ask the people of North Korea to patiently die in place?

Freedom of press and travel guaranteed in some sort of Helsinki agreement during the 6-party-talks which will make it happen that [there] is real monitoring of any food-distribution – photographed by foreign correspondents.

Q: How do you think the Kim Dynasty will end?

Like the one in Roumania or Yugoslavia–at the wall in front of a firing squat or at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Q: What do you recommend that other nations, or their citizens, can do to bring about such a result?

Keep on the pressure with human right issues – get the emotional moving Hollywood blockbuster out and then the people worldwide will care.

Q: Do you think we’ll live to see the limit to their patience?

Yes – because it depends on us – and when we will hurry up it will end very soon.

Q: Do you have any comment on the reports that South Korea will yet again abstain on a U.N. Resolution–this one before the General Assembly–on human rights in North Korea?

Maybe the South Korean government can only act in this way under the current situation when they really want to implement a honest engagement or sunshine policy. But history will show if there was any hidden agenda.

[Separately, Dr. Vollertsen e-mailed these more extensive comments:]

The EU resolution on human rights in the DPRK has now been sent to New York and it is therefore appropriate timing to be approaching the voting countries to seek their support for the resolution. The voting on this resolution is significantly different from that in the UN Commission on Human Rights, as all 191 member states vote at the General Assembly, in contrast to the 53 states that vote at the Commission. This means that the majority of votes at the GA will be cast by countries which have not had to vote on this issue before.

It is therefore important to seek to ensure that all those that could be persuaded to vote yes do so and that all those that could be moved from a possible no are encouraged to abstain instead. We have seen tremendous success at the CHR votes and it is important that we seek to maintain or extend the broad level of support as the matter goes up within the UN.

We will stress the nature of the abuses and the complete lack of co-operation by North Korea, including the refusal to recognize the mandate of, or extend co-operation with, the Special Rapporteur and refusal to engage in technical co-operation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Operational paragraph 13 of the CHR resolution 2005/11 ‘urges other United Nations bodies, inparticular the General Assembly, to take up the question of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea if the Government does not extend cooperation to the SpecialRapporteur and if improvement of the situation of human rights in the country is not observed’. This such lack of co-operation makes a General Assembly resolution virtually inevitable. Opposition or neutrality is morally inappropriate in the context of the very severe human rights violations.

The window of time is fairly narrow. The EU did not want lobbying done until the resolution was sent to New York. However, it is likely to be tabled on 2nd or 3rd November. The voting date appears to be uncertain, though we have been told that it could be as soon as a week after tabling.

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Vollertsen Interview Part II, On Arirang, Food Aid, and the General Assembly Vote on N. Korean Human Rights

Q: So whatever happened with the planned demonstration at the Arirang Festival?

Just nature: The Kashmir earthquake – and some medical emergency call[s] – but maybe the timing will be even better during the APEC summit.

Q: What is your latest word on the food situation in North Korea?

Kim Jong-Il is using food as a weapon against his own people – there is enough food in North Korea for the elite – there is no need for hunger in the communities in the country side which will not get any more state rations when they are opposing Pyongyang.

Q: When we speak of peaceful solutions in North Korea, can you suggest one that doesn’t simply ask the people of North Korea to patiently die in place?

Freedom of press and travel guaranteed in some sort of Helsinki agreement during the 6-party-talks which will make it happen that [there] is real monitoring of any food-distribution – photographed by foreign correspondents.

Q: How do you think the Kim Dynasty will end?

Like the one in Roumania or Yugoslavia–at the wall in front of a firing squat or at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Q: What do you recommend that other nations, or their citizens, can do to bring about such a result?

Keep on the pressure with human right issues – get the emotional moving Hollywood blockbuster out and then the people worldwide will care.

Q: Do you think we’ll live to see the limit to their patience?

Yes – because it depends on us – and when we will hurry up it will end very soon.

Q: Do you have any comment on the reports that South Korea will yet again abstain on a U.N. Resolution–this one before the General Assembly–on human rights in North Korea?

Maybe the South Korean government can only act in this way under the current situation when they really want to implement a honest engagement or sunshine policy. But history will show if there was any hidden agenda.

[Separately, Dr. Vollertsen e-mailed these more extensive comments:]

The EU resolution on human rights in the DPRK has now been sent to New York and it is therefore appropriate timing to be approaching the voting countries to seek their support for the resolution. The voting on this resolution is significantly different from that in the UN Commission on Human Rights, as all 191 member states vote at the General Assembly, in contrast to the 53 states that vote at the Commission. This means that the majority of votes at the GA will be cast by countries which have not had to vote on this issue before.

It is therefore important to seek to ensure that all those that could be persuaded to vote yes do so and that all those that could be moved from a possible no are encouraged to abstain instead. We have seen tremendous success at the CHR votes and it is important that we seek to maintain or extend the broad level of support as the matter goes up within the UN.

We will stress the nature of the abuses and the complete lack of co-operation by North Korea, including the refusal to recognize the mandate of, or extend co-operation with, the Special Rapporteur and refusal to engage in technical co-operation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Operational paragraph 13 of the CHR resolution 2005/11 ‘urges other United Nations bodies, inparticular the General Assembly, to take up the question of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea if the Government does not extend cooperation to the SpecialRapporteur and if improvement of the situation of human rights in the country is not observed’. This such lack of co-operation makes a General Assembly resolution virtually inevitable. Opposition or neutrality is morally inappropriate in the context of the very severe human rights violations.

The window of time is fairly narrow. The EU did not want lobbying done until the resolution was sent to New York. However, it is likely to be tabled on 2nd or 3rd November. The voting date appears to be uncertain, though we have been told that it could be as soon as a week after tabling.

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Keynote Address by Suzanne Scholte, North Korean Human Rights Conference, Seoul, December 2005

I’d like to thank my friend Suzanne Scholte for forwarding the full text of her keynote address at Freedom House’s North Korean Human Rights Conference in Seoul.

Keynote Speech for Seoul Summit: Promoting Human Rights in North Korea
Remarks by Suzanne Scholte . . . December 8, 2005

I am deeply honored to be a part of this Seoul Summit: Promoting Human Rights in North Korea and thank the Organizing Committee and Freedom House for asking me to be one of your key note speakers. It is an especially great honor to be here with you with a man I greatly honor and respect, Hwang Jang-yop, who has been such an outspoken leader and champion for the North Korean people. He has inspired so many of us in our common cause for North Korea freedom. I also appreciate sharing this opportunity with my brother, Kim Seung-Min, who has been a brave and courageous leader among the North Korean defectors.

Today, I want to provide a brief assessment of the North Korea Human Rights movement and then discuss what I feel are the greatest obstacles we are facing in the fulfillment of our goal for unification of the Korean peninsula as one free and democratic people.

My own involvement in this issue began in 1996 in working to bring defectors to the United States to speak out about the Kim regime. We have hosted defectors from every walk of life . . . the most important and respected like Hwang Jang-yop to young people who spent their youth in political prison camps like Kang Chul Hwan, from Soon Ok Lee, who witnessed terrible atrocities in these camps to Ma Soon Hee and Cha Yeong Sook who along with their daughters were victims of trafficking in China. We have hosted former military and security officials in the United States, and even North Korea’s most famous gymnast, Oh Young-Hui.

It is because of the courageousness of these defectors, their willingness to speak out despite the attacks and threats against them that the North Korea human rights movement has made such tremendous progress. These defectors confirmed what we all suspected: Kim Jong–il is the worst violator of human rights in the world today by the sheer number of people he has killed directly through his polices, his involvement in international drug trafficking, counterfeiting, continuing to hold South Korean POWS and Korean War abductees, abducting South Korean and Japanese citizens, and proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

These defectors confirmed that North Korea is a land of horrible repression and evil with no human rights or freedom for its citizens. It is a regime unlike any other in modern times for the sheer brutality of its system and for the complete control by Kim Jong-il and his party elite.
It is a totalitarian state in which the people are enslaved to serve Kim Jong-il.

Kim uses at least three methods to maintain power: the political prison camp system which instills a terrible fear among the people; controlling access to any information — isolating the North Korean people from the rest of the world; and by controlling access to food. This third method of control has triggered yet another horror on the North Korean people . . . massive starvation. A man-made famine caused by Kim Jong-il’s policies and his diversion of donated food aid to his miliary. . . the largest per population in the world . . . has triggered this refugee crisis.

Ironically, this refugee crisis opened the door for information to get into North Korea. North Koreans had been warned in the 1990’s not to go to China — the regime tried to convince the people that the situation was even worse in China, that China was undergoing a civil war and worse famine conditions existed there. But hunger drove many North Koreans over the border in search of food and what those first refugees found instead was what they described as a “paradise” in China compared to what they were enduring in their homeland. The word quickly spread and now 100s of 1000s of North Koreans have made the trek into China.

And how does China treat these starving men, women, and children who come hungry and desperate. The Chinese government puts a price on their heads, repatriates them when they are caught, and jails people who try to help them. Despite this cruel policy, North Koreans keep fleeing to China because they are faced with a terrible choice: stay in North Korea and starve to death or flee to China and take your chances. If you are a man you could become a slave laborer on a Chinese farm or if you are a woman you would hope for that because it is more likely . . . a 70 to 90% chance . . . you will be sold into sexual slavery, to a brothel or to a Chinese farmer.

Last December, the world was shaken by the terrible Tsunami disaster. We were all overcome with grief for the tremendous loss of life by that terrible natural disaster. Yet, just to put the Kim regimes in perspective: Kim Il Song and Kim Jong-il have killed 22 times the number of people that were killed in the Tsunami disaster last December. Theirs has been a man-made disaster and a slow, silent killing of the North Korean people.

The world responded with the greatest humanitarian outpouring in history to help the nations affected by the Tsunamis. Yet, the deaths from this natural disaster were just 5% of the number of lives destroyed by father and son Kim in North Korea.

Where is the world today in responding to the man-made disaster of North Korea?

Many governments responded with aid to this regime . . . aid that ended up maintaining the Kim regime. Those organizations and individuals who have tried to directly help the refugees in China and the North Korean people are hunted down and jailed.

Here we have a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions and a world community that is ready to respond with assistance and what does the government of China and the regime of Kim Jong-il do? China terrorizes the refugees, sends them back to North Korea where they face imprisonment and execution and jails the humanitarian workers who try to help them. Kim Jong-il uses the humanitarian aid as a weapon against his own people, blocking aid from entire regions of North Korea he considers disloyal.

Furthermore, our governments, so concerned about Kim’s nuclear threat intentionally downplay the human rights of the North Korean people.

Fortunately, the North Korea human rights movement has made tremendous progress because of dedicated groups around the world. Among the earliest were the Seoul-based Citizens Alliance for North Korea Human Rights and the Japan-based Society to Help Returnees to North Korea. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy these organizations were able to host and sponsor beginning in 1999 the International Conference on North Korea Human Rights and Refugees which served as a critical time for human rights groups to gather from around the world to be further informed, inspired, and to act.

Recently, significant landmark events have occurred that directly challenge Kim Jong-il’s methods of maintaining power.

First, last year’s unanimous passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act showed how the United States had become one voice over this issue. It passed during a very contentious Presidential campaign. Sponsored by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers including Senators Sam Brownback and Evan Bayh, and Congressmen James Leach and Tom Lantos, the legislation worked to address human rights, starvation, the refugee crisis, and the promotion of democracy and human rights in North Korea.

The North Korea Freedom Coalition, which worked aggressively for its passage included people of many ideological views: we had strong John Kerry supporters and strong backers of George Bush, as well as different faiths: Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and most recently members of the Muslim community have joined our coalition.

We may disagree on political issues and religious matters, but in one voice we came together to declare: North Korea must be free.

The formation of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea in September, 2001, and their publication in 2003 of the Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps written by David Hawk, dramatically raised the level of awareness of this issue. Yet, again, the Committee has just published another critical report linking together the absence of human rights protections with the food-shortage crisis.

This report, Hunger and Human Rights: The Politics of Famine in North Korea, authored by Dr. Marcus Noland and Professor Stephen Haggard, found that ongoing food shortages in North Korea are directly linked to systematic human rights abuses and the complete absence of political and personal liberties.

As Debra Liang-Fenton of the US Committee has pointed out: “Despite the best intentions of the international community, North Korea has placed a variety of roadblocks in the way of assistance by both government and non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, this regime actually exploited its own severe floods in the 1990’s to belatedly admit the country was in the midst of a famine.

“North Korea is taking advantage of the generosity of the donor countries. At the same time they have been accepting food aid to alleviate their man-made crisis, they have been cutting their commercial food imports drastically,” Fenton has explained, “Because of the international aid, they now only pay for about ten percent of their food imports. The money they should be
spending on food has been shifted to other priorities including their military.

Earlier last month, South Korea’s own National Human Rights Commission, finally released their own survey of 100 North Korean defectors to find that 75% of them had witnessed public executions; 94% knew about the gulags; 64% witnessed their neighbors starving; 90% cited discrimination in the allocation of materials based on class distinction; over 80% witnessed or had heard about North Korean women being trafficked while 60% were aware that pregnant women of the lesser classes were being forced to abort their babies.

On the heals of this important report comes yet another devastating indictment of the Kim Jong-il regime: the recently published report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Their report: Thank You, Father Kim Il-Sung provides eyewitness testimony of the severe violations of freedom of thought, conscience and religion in North Korea. At this conference you will be able to hear from Scott Flipse of the US Commission, who helped instigate this report and David Hawk who prepared it.

Another significant event in the movement for North Korea Human Rights was the vote by the United Nations General Assembly in November on the resolution regarding North Korea’s human rights. This European Union led-resolution was the first time such a vote had been placed before the General Assembly. It illustrated the growing concern and awareness of the international community over this issue and their frustration with the regime’s refusal to allow Vitit Muntabhorn, who was appointed last July as the UN’s Special Rapporteur for North Korea, access to North Korea.

The resolution calls for North Korea to improve its human rights and allow humanitarian groups to monitor the distribution of aid. Just last week, under the leadership of Pastor Peter Sohn, the Korean American Church Coalition (KCC) held a prayer vigil for North Korea freedom . . . over 12,000 participated in the event in Los Angeles which was the culmination of prayer vigils that have been held all across the United States and Canada by the KCC that have attracted 1000s and 1000s of Korean Americans at each vigil.

Because we are fighting a great evil in North Korea, their focus on prayer is absolutely vital. As U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf has pointed out, what ultimately brought down the evil empire of the Soviet Union was so many folks praying to God for the freedom of those under Soviet domination.

With all this tremendous progress on the human rights agenda for North Korea, why is North Korea still enslaved to Kim Jong-il? There are several reasons:

1) the reluctance by the U.S. government to be forceful on human rights because of the 6 party talks

2) the lack of progress on the implementation of the North Korea Human Rights Act, which we are hopefully going to see change with Jay Lefkowitz’s appointment as Special Envoy;

and the most important:

3) the South Korean government’s abandonment of the North Korean people.

Regarding the United States, I fear that the Bush administration is on the same course taken by the Clinton administration because it believes that we can make an agreement with North Korea over the nuclear issue and then we can talk about human rights. We continue to believe that if we negotiate with Kim Jong-il in good faith, he will do the same. Anyone who believes this should take the time to read Chuck Downs’ book Over the Line, which documents the way in which North Korea uses negotiations . . . it makes agreements to extract aid by making promises it never intends to keep.

The current strategy appears to be: We first talk with North Korea over the nuclear issues and make an agreement, and then we can talk about human rights. I heard this exact strategy from Dr. William Perry in October of 1999 while he was preparing a policy paper on North Korea for then-President Bill Clinton.

The Bush administration seems to be following the same strategy. It is clear that Ambassador Chris Hill is a very skilled and able diplomat. I was deeply impressed with him when he took the time to meet the South Korean POWs who had recently escaped from North Korea who we hosted in Washington, D.C. last year for North Korea Freedom Week.

But how can anyone believe that you can successfully negotiate any agreement with North Korea? If North Korea won’t even allow the monitoring of humanitarian aid, how can anyone think they will allow monitoring of their nuclear sites? Being silent on human rights while negotiating on the nuclear issue means more death for the North Korean people. How many more North Koreans have to die before we stop this failed strategy? As Hwang Jang-yop has pointed out Kim Jong-il’s boasts about his nuclear capability are totally aimed at getting us off the human rights agenda. Human rights is our most powerful weapon to help the North Korean people.

Ignoring the human rights issue as South Korea has done, and making it a secondary issue as America has done, is a betrayal of everything we stand for as free people. The nuclear issue and the human rights issue are the same issue because the same regimes that terrorize the world are the same regimes that terrorize their own people. When we fail to press on human rights we betray our own values as a free people.

Furthermore, we contribute to the lie that Kim Jong-il has told his own people: He has convinced the North Korean people that we are bent on destroying them when in fact billions of dollars of aid from South Korea and the United States has poured into North Korea to help them.

We also demoralize the very people who will be the new leaders of North Korea . . . the people in the Kim Jong-il regime that know in their hearts that he must reform; the defectors in South Korea; the refugees who have shown their dissent by leaving the country . . . 500,000 of them; and those within the underground Christian church who keep the faith alive.

We need to reach out to the “double-thinkers” within the Kim Jong-il regime who know he must reform or be replaced. In addition to the United States’ failure to forcefully press on human rights, the major reason North Koreans remain enslaved to Kim Jong-il is the Roh administration. The current government in South Korea has turned its back on the North Korean people. Among the reasons given are fear of regime collapse, fear of the nuclear threat, the idea that Kim will eventually die and we should “wait it out” until a new leader comes to power, and the chilling theory that the Roh administration is part of Kim’s grand scheme to unify the peninsula. The fear of regime collapse is the reason I hear most: the fear that it would cause a great economic burden on South Korea. I think it is immoral to have this view, but even those who are selfish and only concerned for their own well, being cannot fail to consider that the cost of containing and appeasing Kim Jong-il exceed the GNP of North Korea.

When you add up what America and Korea spend to contain this regime because of its threat against us . . . the $9 billion we spend annually on South Korean and American forces at the DMZ . . . and what we spend on maintaining this regime . . . the billions spent for the sunshine policy . . . and the money Kim Jong-il has hidden in bank accounts raised through counterfeiting, drug trafficking, and selling weapons of mass destruction, you surpass the GNP of North Korea. Containing and maintaining Kim’s regime is more costly than regime collapse. Imagine if he were gone and reform minded leaders came to power working with the defectors who have fled North Korea to rebuild that nation bring in roads, electricity, create jobs and businesses.

Anyone who finds this implausible forgets what Koreans are capable of. How quickly we have forgotten the year 1953 when North Korea was the economic power, it was industrialized and far move advanced than South Korea. South Korea had the agrarian economy. Many thought Seoul could never rise above the devastation of that war. It was in ashes. But, out of those ashes, Koreans built the world’s 11th largest economy.

In conclusion, we must make human rights the central part of any discussions, any negotiations at every level and at every venue. Our priorities must be to save the refugees, to support and empower the North Korean defectors, and to pressure China to stop its violence against the North Korean refugees. To save the refugees, we must call on the countries in the region to establish temporary resettlement facilities for the refugees and negotiate a first asylum policy with our regional partners, as we did for the Vietnamese boat people.

We should be funding, as individuals, as organizations, and as governments, the programs already proven and successful led by North Korean defectors like Free North Korea Radio, Democracy Network Against the North Korean Gulag and the Exile Committee for North Korea Democracy. We need to reach out to the North Korean people through the defectors themselves who are actively engaged in rescuing North Korean refugees, getting information and radios into North Korea, and reaching out to average North Korean citizens as well as elites in the regime who desire reform. Tragically, these groups are being harassed and shut down by the South Korean government but their programs are vital to reaching out to the North Korean people.

We also should be providing additional funding to Radio Free Asia and Voice of America for increased radio broadcasts and the hiring of North Korean defectors to help broadcast news and information into North Korea Regarding the government of China, it should be condemned for its violent treatment of North Korean refugees, its violation of the international agreements it has signed regarding refugees, and its complicity in perpetuating the greatest human rights tragedy of our time. Here’s a country that terrorizes starving men women and children and jails humanitarians workers including its own citizens as well as South Korean and American citizens who were caught trying to feed and shelter them.

Because the government of China has continued to repatriate North Korean refugees and ignored the international agreements it has have signed, we need to put pressure on them in every way possible. One is to continue with the International Protests that are being held at the embassies and consulate offices around the world that began in December last year and continued on to April 28, the anniversary in the USA of North Korea Freedom Day.

Lawmakers in the USA have introduced legislation calling for the Beijing Olympics to be moved to another city. Why should a country that treats its neighbors so cruelly be the site of any event celebrating good will among nations? Other NGOs, especially those concerned with China’s own human rights violations against its own people, are calling for an Olympic Boycott in Beijing. Other NGOs are calling for boycotts of Chinese products and that governments enact penalties against China unless the government stop its violent repatriation of North Korean refugees.

We must answer the call of Proverbs 24: To rescue those being led away to death!

I want to close with one final point: Kim Dong-Gil, a South Korean Christian and civic leader, has pointed out that during the Japanese occupation many loyal Koreans gave in because they did not know their day of liberation was coming. They lost hope that there would be such a day as August 15, 1945.

The day of liberation is coming for North Korea. With the power of prayer and the wonderful way that God has raised up so many defectors and individuals in South Korea and around the world to fight in this cause, I believe the North Korean people will soon be free.

And at this very critical time in history, we will be judged on whether we stood up for them or not.

Photo Cred: Suzanne Scholte, Robert Pepin of The French Committee to Help the Population in North Korea, and at least one other very important person who reads this blog. Seoul, February 2005. From the DailyNK, of course.

Actual post date: December 14, 2005.

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Keynote Address by Suzanne Scholte, North Korean Human Rights Conference, Seoul, December 2005

I’d like to thank my friend Suzanne Scholte for forwarding the full text of her keynote address at Freedom House’s North Korean Human Rights Conference in Seoul.

Keynote Speech for Seoul Summit: Promoting Human Rights in North Korea
Remarks by Suzanne Scholte . . . December 8, 2005

I am deeply honored to be a part of this Seoul Summit: Promoting Human Rights in North Korea and thank the Organizing Committee and Freedom House for asking me to be one of your key note speakers. It is an especially great honor to be here with you with a man I greatly honor and respect, Hwang Jang-yop, who has been such an outspoken leader and champion for the North Korean people. He has inspired so many of us in our common cause for North Korea freedom. I also appreciate sharing this opportunity with my brother, Kim Seung-Min, who has been a brave and courageous leader among the North Korean defectors.

Today, I want to provide a brief assessment of the North Korea Human Rights movement and then discuss what I feel are the greatest obstacles we are facing in the fulfillment of our goal for unification of the Korean peninsula as one free and democratic people.

My own involvement in this issue began in 1996 in working to bring defectors to the United States to speak out about the Kim regime. We have hosted defectors from every walk of life . . . the most important and respected like Hwang Jang-yop to young people who spent their youth in political prison camps like Kang Chul Hwan, from Soon Ok Lee, who witnessed terrible atrocities in these camps to Ma Soon Hee and Cha Yeong Sook who along with their daughters were victims of trafficking in China. We have hosted former military and security officials in the United States, and even North Korea’s most famous gymnast, Oh Young-Hui.

It is because of the courageousness of these defectors, their willingness to speak out despite the attacks and threats against them that the North Korea human rights movement has made such tremendous progress. These defectors confirmed what we all suspected: Kim Jong–il is the worst violator of human rights in the world today by the sheer number of people he has killed directly through his polices, his involvement in international drug trafficking, counterfeiting, continuing to hold South Korean POWS and Korean War abductees, abducting South Korean and Japanese citizens, and proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

These defectors confirmed that North Korea is a land of horrible repression and evil with no human rights or freedom for its citizens. It is a regime unlike any other in modern times for the sheer brutality of its system and for the complete control by Kim Jong-il and his party elite.
It is a totalitarian state in which the people are enslaved to serve Kim Jong-il.

Kim uses at least three methods to maintain power: the political prison camp system which instills a terrible fear among the people; controlling access to any information — isolating the North Korean people from the rest of the world; and by controlling access to food. This third method of control has triggered yet another horror on the North Korean people . . . massive starvation. A man-made famine caused by Kim Jong-il’s policies and his diversion of donated food aid to his miliary. . . the largest per population in the world . . . has triggered this refugee crisis.

Ironically, this refugee crisis opened the door for information to get into North Korea. North Koreans had been warned in the 1990’s not to go to China — the regime tried to convince the people that the situation was even worse in China, that China was undergoing a civil war and worse famine conditions existed there. But hunger drove many North Koreans over the border in search of food and what those first refugees found instead was what they described as a “paradise” in China compared to what they were enduring in their homeland. The word quickly spread and now 100s of 1000s of North Koreans have made the trek into China.

And how does China treat these starving men, women, and children who come hungry and desperate. The Chinese government puts a price on their heads, repatriates them when they are caught, and jails people who try to help them. Despite this cruel policy, North Koreans keep fleeing to China because they are faced with a terrible choice: stay in North Korea and starve to death or flee to China and take your chances. If you are a man you could become a slave laborer on a Chinese farm or if you are a woman you would hope for that because it is more likely . . . a 70 to 90% chance . . . you will be sold into sexual slavery, to a brothel or to a Chinese farmer.

Last December, the world was shaken by the terrible Tsunami disaster. We were all overcome with grief for the tremendous loss of life by that terrible natural disaster. Yet, just to put the Kim regimes in perspective: Kim Il Song and Kim Jong-il have killed 22 times the number of people that were killed in the Tsunami disaster last December. Theirs has been a man-made disaster and a slow, silent killing of the North Korean people.

The world responded with the greatest humanitarian outpouring in history to help the nations affected by the Tsunamis. Yet, the deaths from this natural disaster were just 5% of the number of lives destroyed by father and son Kim in North Korea.

Where is the world today in responding to the man-made disaster of North Korea?

Many governments responded with aid to this regime . . . aid that ended up maintaining the Kim regime. Those organizations and individuals who have tried to directly help the refugees in China and the North Korean people are hunted down and jailed.

Here we have a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions and a world community that is ready to respond with assistance and what does the government of China and the regime of Kim Jong-il do? China terrorizes the refugees, sends them back to North Korea where they face imprisonment and execution and jails the humanitarian workers who try to help them. Kim Jong-il uses the humanitarian aid as a weapon against his own people, blocking aid from entire regions of North Korea he considers disloyal.

Furthermore, our governments, so concerned about Kim’s nuclear threat intentionally downplay the human rights of the North Korean people.

Fortunately, the North Korea human rights movement has made tremendous progress because of dedicated groups around the world. Among the earliest were the Seoul-based Citizens Alliance for North Korea Human Rights and the Japan-based Society to Help Returnees to North Korea. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy these organizations were able to host and sponsor beginning in 1999 the International Conference on North Korea Human Rights and Refugees which served as a critical time for human rights groups to gather from around the world to be further informed, inspired, and to act.

Recently, significant landmark events have occurred that directly challenge Kim Jong-il’s methods of maintaining power.

First, last year’s unanimous passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act showed how the United States had become one voice over this issue. It passed during a very contentious Presidential campaign. Sponsored by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers including Senators Sam Brownback and Evan Bayh, and Congressmen James Leach and Tom Lantos, the legislation worked to address human rights, starvation, the refugee crisis, and the promotion of democracy and human rights in North Korea.

The North Korea Freedom Coalition, which worked aggressively for its passage included people of many ideological views: we had strong John Kerry supporters and strong backers of George Bush, as well as different faiths: Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and most recently members of the Muslim community have joined our coalition.

We may disagree on political issues and religious matters, but in one voice we came together to declare: North Korea must be free.

The formation of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea in September, 2001, and their publication in 2003 of the Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps written by David Hawk, dramatically raised the level of awareness of this issue. Yet, again, the Committee has just published another critical report linking together the absence of human rights protections with the food-shortage crisis.

This report, Hunger and Human Rights: The Politics of Famine in North Korea, authored by Dr. Marcus Noland and Professor Stephen Haggard, found that ongoing food shortages in North Korea are directly linked to systematic human rights abuses and the complete absence of political and personal liberties.

As Debra Liang-Fenton of the US Committee has pointed out: “Despite the best intentions of the international community, North Korea has placed a variety of roadblocks in the way of assistance by both government and non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, this regime actually exploited its own severe floods in the 1990’s to belatedly admit the country was in the midst of a famine.

“North Korea is taking advantage of the generosity of the donor countries. At the same time they have been accepting food aid to alleviate their man-made crisis, they have been cutting their commercial food imports drastically,” Fenton has explained, “Because of the international aid, they now only pay for about ten percent of their food imports. The money they should be
spending on food has been shifted to other priorities including their military.

Earlier last month, South Korea’s own National Human Rights Commission, finally released their own survey of 100 North Korean defectors to find that 75% of them had witnessed public executions; 94% knew about the gulags; 64% witnessed their neighbors starving; 90% cited discrimination in the allocation of materials based on class distinction; over 80% witnessed or had heard about North Korean women being trafficked while 60% were aware that pregnant women of the lesser classes were being forced to abort their babies.

On the heals of this important report comes yet another devastating indictment of the Kim Jong-il regime: the recently published report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Their report: Thank You, Father Kim Il-Sung provides eyewitness testimony of the severe violations of freedom of thought, conscience and religion in North Korea. At this conference you will be able to hear from Scott Flipse of the US Commission, who helped instigate this report and David Hawk who prepared it.

Another significant event in the movement for North Korea Human Rights was the vote by the United Nations General Assembly in November on the resolution regarding North Korea’s human rights. This European Union led-resolution was the first time such a vote had been placed before the General Assembly. It illustrated the growing concern and awareness of the international community over this issue and their frustration with the regime’s refusal to allow Vitit Muntabhorn, who was appointed last July as the UN’s Special Rapporteur for North Korea, access to North Korea.

The resolution calls for North Korea to improve its human rights and allow humanitarian groups to monitor the distribution of aid. Just last week, under the leadership of Pastor Peter Sohn, the Korean American Church Coalition (KCC) held a prayer vigil for North Korea freedom . . . over 12,000 participated in the event in Los Angeles which was the culmination of prayer vigils that have been held all across the United States and Canada by the KCC that have attracted 1000s and 1000s of Korean Americans at each vigil.

Because we are fighting a great evil in North Korea, their focus on prayer is absolutely vital. As U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf has pointed out, what ultimately brought down the evil empire of the Soviet Union was so many folks praying to God for the freedom of those under Soviet domination.

With all this tremendous progress on the human rights agenda for North Korea, why is North Korea still enslaved to Kim Jong-il? There are several reasons:

1) the reluctance by the U.S. government to be forceful on human rights because of the 6 party talks

2) the lack of progress on the implementation of the North Korea Human Rights Act, which we are hopefully going to see change with Jay Lefkowitz’s appointment as Special Envoy;

and the most important:

3) the South Korean government’s abandonment of the North Korean people.

Regarding the United States, I fear that the Bush administration is on the same course taken by the Clinton administration because it believes that we can make an agreement with North Korea over the nuclear issue and then we can talk about human rights. We continue to believe that if we negotiate with Kim Jong-il in good faith, he will do the same. Anyone who believes this should take the time to read Chuck Downs’ book Over the Line, which documents the way in which North Korea uses negotiations . . . it makes agreements to extract aid by making promises it never intends to keep.

The current strategy appears to be: We first talk with North Korea over the nuclear issues and make an agreement, and then we can talk about human rights. I heard this exact strategy from Dr. William Perry in October of 1999 while he was preparing a policy paper on North Korea for then-President Bill Clinton.

The Bush administration seems to be following the same strategy. It is clear that Ambassador Chris Hill is a very skilled and able diplomat. I was deeply impressed with him when he took the time to meet the South Korean POWs who had recently escaped from North Korea who we hosted in Washington, D.C. last year for North Korea Freedom Week.

But how can anyone believe that you can successfully negotiate any agreement with North Korea? If North Korea won’t even allow the monitoring of humanitarian aid, how can anyone think they will allow monitoring of their nuclear sites? Being silent on human rights while negotiating on the nuclear issue means more death for the North Korean people. How many more North Koreans have to die before we stop this failed strategy? As Hwang Jang-yop has pointed out Kim Jong-il’s boasts about his nuclear capability are totally aimed at getting us off the human rights agenda. Human rights is our most powerful weapon to help the North Korean people.

Ignoring the human rights issue as South Korea has done, and making it a secondary issue as America has done, is a betrayal of everything we stand for as free people. The nuclear issue and the human rights issue are the same issue because the same regimes that terrorize the world are the same regimes that terrorize their own people. When we fail to press on human rights we betray our own values as a free people.

Furthermore, we contribute to the lie that Kim Jong-il has told his own people: He has convinced the North Korean people that we are bent on destroying them when in fact billions of dollars of aid from South Korea and the United States has poured into North Korea to help them.

We also demoralize the very people who will be the new leaders of North Korea . . . the people in the Kim Jong-il regime that know in their hearts that he must reform; the defectors in South Korea; the refugees who have shown their dissent by leaving the country . . . 500,000 of them; and those within the underground Christian church who keep the faith alive.

We need to reach out to the “double-thinkers” within the Kim Jong-il regime who know he must reform or be replaced. In addition to the United States’ failure to forcefully press on human rights, the major reason North Koreans remain enslaved to Kim Jong-il is the Roh administration. The current government in South Korea has turned its back on the North Korean people. Among the reasons given are fear of regime collapse, fear of the nuclear threat, the idea that Kim will eventually die and we should “wait it out” until a new leader comes to power, and the chilling theory that the Roh administration is part of Kim’s grand scheme to unify the peninsula. The fear of regime collapse is the reason I hear most: the fear that it would cause a great economic burden on South Korea. I think it is immoral to have this view, but even those who are selfish and only concerned for their own well, being cannot fail to consider that the cost of containing and appeasing Kim Jong-il exceed the GNP of North Korea.

When you add up what America and Korea spend to contain this regime because of its threat against us . . . the $9 billion we spend annually on South Korean and American forces at the DMZ . . . and what we spend on maintaining this regime . . . the billions spent for the sunshine policy . . . and the money Kim Jong-il has hidden in bank accounts raised through counterfeiting, drug trafficking, and selling weapons of mass destruction, you surpass the GNP of North Korea. Containing and maintaining Kim’s regime is more costly than regime collapse. Imagine if he were gone and reform minded leaders came to power working with the defectors who have fled North Korea to rebuild that nation bring in roads, electricity, create jobs and businesses.

Anyone who finds this implausible forgets what Koreans are capable of. How quickly we have forgotten the year 1953 when North Korea was the economic power, it was industrialized and far move advanced than South Korea. South Korea had the agrarian economy. Many thought Seoul could never rise above the devastation of that war. It was in ashes. But, out of those ashes, Koreans built the world’s 11th largest economy.

In conclusion, we must make human rights the central part of any discussions, any negotiations at every level and at every venue. Our priorities must be to save the refugees, to support and empower the North Korean defectors, and to pressure China to stop its violence against the North Korean refugees. To save the refugees, we must call on the countries in the region to establish temporary resettlement facilities for the refugees and negotiate a first asylum policy with our regional partners, as we did for the Vietnamese boat people.

We should be funding, as individuals, as organizations, and as governments, the programs already proven and successful led by North Korean defectors like Free North Korea Radio, Democracy Network Against the North Korean Gulag and the Exile Committee for North Korea Democracy. We need to reach out to the North Korean people through the defectors themselves who are actively engaged in rescuing North Korean refugees, getting information and radios into North Korea, and reaching out to average North Korean citizens as well as elites in the regime who desire reform. Tragically, these groups are being harassed and shut down by the South Korean government but their programs are vital to reaching out to the North Korean people.

We also should be providing additional funding to Radio Free Asia and Voice of America for increased radio broadcasts and the hiring of North Korean defectors to help broadcast news and information into North Korea Regarding the government of China, it should be condemned for its violent treatment of North Korean refugees, its violation of the international agreements it has signed regarding refugees, and its complicity in perpetuating the greatest human rights tragedy of our time. Here’s a country that terrorizes starving men women and children and jails humanitarians workers including its own citizens as well as South Korean and American citizens who were caught trying to feed and shelter them.

Because the government of China has continued to repatriate North Korean refugees and ignored the international agreements it has have signed, we need to put pressure on them in every way possible. One is to continue with the International Protests that are being held at the embassies and consulate offices around the world that began in December last year and continued on to April 28, the anniversary in the USA of North Korea Freedom Day.

Lawmakers in the USA have introduced legislation calling for the Beijing Olympics to be moved to another city. Why should a country that treats its neighbors so cruelly be the site of any event celebrating good will among nations? Other NGOs, especially those concerned with China’s own human rights violations against its own people, are calling for an Olympic Boycott in Beijing. Other NGOs are calling for boycotts of Chinese products and that governments enact penalties against China unless the government stop its violent repatriation of North Korean refugees.

We must answer the call of Proverbs 24: To rescue those being led away to death!

I want to close with one final point: Kim Dong-Gil, a South Korean Christian and civic leader, has pointed out that during the Japanese occupation many loyal Koreans gave in because they did not know their day of liberation was coming. They lost hope that there would be such a day as August 15, 1945.

The day of liberation is coming for North Korea. With the power of prayer and the wonderful way that God has raised up so many defectors and individuals in South Korea and around the world to fight in this cause, I believe the North Korean people will soon be free.

And at this very critical time in history, we will be judged on whether we stood up for them or not.

Photo Cred: Suzanne Scholte, Robert Pepin of The French Committee to Help the Population in North Korea, and at least one other very important person who reads this blog. Seoul, February 2005. From the DailyNK, of course.

Actual post date: December 14, 2005.

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Defining Genocide Down

The president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, is calling for a historical reappraisal of one of the last century’s darkest events:

Yushchenko was addressing a candlelight ceremony marking the 1932-33 famine induced by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s orders to requisition grain and break the spirit of Ukraine’s “kurkuly” farmers who resisted his drive to collectivise agriculture. The day had been chosen as the official commemoration day for the famine that was never recognised by the Soviet Union. The president told 5,000 people in a Kiev square that up to 10 million died in the famine and pressed his case for the United Nations to declare it a genocide. Historians’ estimates put the figure at about 7.5 million.
. . . .

Mourners placed 33,000 candles in Mykhailov Square, corresponding to the number of lives the famine claimed daily at its height. Flags on public buildings bore black ribbons. The sound of a young woman wailing wafted through loudspeakers and the names of countless victims were read out. The systematic confiscation of grain and livestock in Ukraine, known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, left millions to die in their homes or in the street, with soldiers dumping bodies into pits. Cannibalism became rife.

The definitive history of the Ukrainian famine is the British historian Robert Conquest’s Harvest of Sorrow. I’ve previously noted some basis for comparison between the Ukraine’s famine–so infamously denied in Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer-winning reports for the New York Times–with the famine in North Korea. [This piece on Duranty and efforts to pull his Pulitzer, from the Columbia Journalism review, is a must-read].

But Is It Really Genocide?

I’ve already tabulated the differing estimates for the death toll from the North Korean famine. Those which come from reliable sources range from as low as 600,000 to as high as 3.5 million. The former figure, which is Marcus Noland’s low-range estimate (his high-range estimate is one million), may be understated because it likely fails to consider deaths from opportunistic diseases, or deaths by those who fled the famine-stricken areas and were thus not recorded in official records. The latter figure, from Medicins Sans Frontieres researcher Fiona Terry, may overrepresent areas that were more severely affected by the famine. The more objectively likely figure is Andrew Natsios’s estimate of 2.5 million dead, which is an aggregate of refugee interviews, statistically controlled projections, and census data from North Korean county offices, which Natsios generally trusts.

The lawyer’s frustration about the famine in the Ukraine–and that in North Korea, if the facts ultimately show a similar degree of malice aforethought–is that neither fits the internationally accepted legal definition of “genocide.” For the same reason, nor does Hitler’s persecution of homosexuals, nor the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge. All of these are examples of persecution on the basis of imputed membership in political and social groups, which don’t fit the definition in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (right sidebar, under “Resources”), which defines “genocide” this way:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring a out its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.’

Thus, mass starvation of Christians or Albanians would count; the persecution of the Falun Gong probably also qualifies; mass starvation of Ukrainian kulaks or North Koreans classified as “hostile” would not. We owe that distinction to Stalin himself, writes the scholar Martin Shaw:

In the UN debate before the Convention was agreed [in 1948], Soviet representatives succeeded in excluding political groups from the list of those protected; as Leo Kuper (1981: 39) writes, this is a ‘major omission’. Social classes were also left out.

Stalin, who pioneered the use of famine against “hostile” political and social groups, had ample reason to define genocide down. Shaw continues:

The Convention said that genocide was about the destruction of national, ethnic, racial and religious groups. It excluded the annihilation of groups defined by other characteristics such as class or political affiliation – so that Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks (or ‘rich’ peasants: Episode III) and eastern European political elites could not be counted. But in the same year that the United Nations adopted the genocide convention, it also adopted its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From a universal human standpoint, it is clearly untenable to lay down that the destruction and mass killing of some sorts of human group (races, nations or religions) should be regarded as a particularly heinous crime, while that of others (classes, professions or political groups) should not. Yet the restrictive international definition gives special status to the former groups.

Professor, blogger, and friend of OFK Rudy Rummel applies the term “democide” to state-engineered mass-killings, thus circumventing the Genocide Convention’s parsing. This excellent discussion by Professor Yaroslav Bilinski continues the discussion of whether the Famine of 1933 was a genocide. Other governments have been accused of using the same tactic–most notably, the now-deposed Marxist government of Ethiopia, whose own collectivization program was one cause of the famine that inspired Live Aid.

Stalin, the Kims, and Class

Starvation in North Korea is largely a matter of political classification, and to some extent, of geographic misfortune (see the subheading on “triage” at this post). North Korea’s political classification system is quite complex, as this fascinating testimony from uber-connected Pentagon analyst Katie Hassig tells us, but that system can be generalized into three main groups:

Since the 1950s, the Kim regime has subjected its people to a series of political examinations in order to sort out those who are presumed to be loyal or disloyal to the regime. After a three-year period of examination that began in 1967, then-president Kim Il-sung reported to the Fifth Korean Workers’ Party Congress in 1970 that the people could be classified into three political groups: a loyal “core class,” a suspect “wavering class,” and a politically unreliable “hostile class.”

For an even more detailed tabulation of all 51 subcategories, get a load of this. But North Korea did not invent political classification. Stalinism also placed Soviet citizens into political categories based on pre-revolutionary class:

The peasantry was tentatively divided into three broad categories: bednyaks, or poor peasants, seredniaks, or medium-prosperity ones, and kulaks, the rich farmers. In addition, there was a category of batraks, or landless agriculture workers for hire (farm hands).

After the Russian Revolution, Bolsheviks considered only batraks and bednyaks as true allies of the proletariat. Serednyaks were considered unreliable, “hesitating” allies, and kulaks were class enemies by definition. However, often those declared to be kulaks were not especially prosperous. Both peasants and Soviet officials were often uncertain what constituted a kulak, and the term was often used to label anyone who used hired labor or had more property than considered “norm” according to some criteria.

Class and the Disparate Impact of the North Korean Famine

Numerous international aid organizations have taken note of great class-based disparities in the distribution of food aid. Most of the best-known humanitarian organizations have expressed their concern over this disparity. The most circumspect of these is Amnesty International, which was infamously less so elsewhere. In a 2004 report, Amnesty described the disparity at length, before stating, in its final recommendations:

The North Korean government should . . . [e]nsure that food shortages are not used as a tool to persecute perceived political opponents and that there is no discrimination in the distribution of food aid.

Medicins Sans Frontieres, which actually pulled out of North Korea over the latter’s lack of transparency in the distribution of food aid, had this to say:

Even population groups such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly, who are specifically targeted for assistance by the United Nations World Food Program, are being denied food aid.

MSF essentially accused the regime of discriminating against certain classes in its distribution of food:

North Korean refugees across the Chinese border spoke of widespread famine, and reported that the authorities had distributed international aid according to social position and party loyalty.

Most scathing of all, and the most recent to weigh in, was Refugees International (this file is a big, fat pdf):

In North Korea access to public goods–food, education, health care, shelter, employment–cannot be separated from the all-pervasive system of political persecution. Based on an original registration conducted in 1947, the North Korean population is divided into three categories: core, wavering, and hostile, with the latter constituting 27% of the total. There are more than 50 subcategories.

The class status of each family is for life and transfers from generation to generation. Members of the hostile class are the last to receive entitlements, which is disastrous when a comprehensive welfare regime such as that established in North Korea collapses, as it did from 1994 onwards. Thus, an entire class of individuals is persecuted through the functioning of North Korea’s political system. In this context, there is no meaningful way to separate economic deprivation from political persecution.
. . . .

Based on Refugees International’s interviews, and the testimony collected by other human rights organizations, most North Koreans crossing the border into China are fleeing state-sponsored denial of their human rights. Members of the “hostile class” and residents of areas deliberately cut off from international food assistance have an especially strong case to be considered refugees in the sense of fleeing targeted political persecution. . . . Not since Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge has a government succeeded in creating such an all-encompassing reality of oppression and restrictions on the basic rights of the majority of its citizens. (emphasis mine)

To Fiona Terry of Medicins San Frontieres, the North Korean government’s manipulation of international food aid was studied and intentional:

The teams realised that the government fabricated whatever they wanted aid workers to see: malnourished children in nurseries when more food aid was desired, and well-fed children when donors needed reassurance that food aid was doing good. Refugee testimonies corroborate this concern: some report having carried food from military storage facilities to nurseries before a UN visit, and others speak of being mobilised to dig up areas to exacerbate flood damage in preparation for a UN inspection.

When driving through some towns MSF personnel saw filthy, malnourished children dressed in rags, scavenging for grains along the railway track. But when asked about these children and the possibility of assisting them, the authorities denied that they even existed. MSF began to understand that the North Korean government categorises its population according to perceived loyalty and usefulness to the regime, and those deemed ‘hostile’ or useless were expendable. (emphasis mine)

How many of its people could North Korea consider expendable? Terry, writing in The Guardian, claimed that “in 1996, Kim Jong-il publicly declared that only 30% of the population needed to survive to reconstruct a victorious society.

Would a Court Convict Kim Jong Il?

Of the fine legal definition of genocide, we have spoken. But what of Kim Jong Il’s culpability for the famine as murder? Disparate impact can be circumstantial evidence for an intent to kill, but falls short of being conclusive proof. This is not to give life to the myth that circumstantial evidence alone cannot be the basis for a conviction; it assuredly can. But was this disparate impact the result of mere coincidence, official negligence, or malice aforethought? The answer to this question may have to await the trial of Kim Jong Il.

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Key House Aide’s Remarks on the State of the U.S.-Korea Alliance

20th ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF
THE COUNCIL ON U.S.-KOREA SECURITY STUDIES

Changing Dynamics on the Korean Peninsula:
Implications for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

October 7, 2005
The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave., NE

Washington, DC

Paper: The Trojan Horse: Pyongyang’s Successful Propaganda Campaign to Win
the Hearts of South Koreans and Undermine the U.S.-ROK Alliance

by

Dennis P. Halpin
Professional Staff, House International Relations Committee

This paper reflects my own views and not necessarily, except where explicitly stated, the views of Chairman Hyde or the Committee on International Relations.

The ancient Greeks, as we all know well, faced a great deal of frustration after ten years of stalemate in their prolonged attempt to conquer the prosperous but well protected citadel of Troy. There was no way to penetrate the vast walls and reach the treasure house that lay within. Massive barriers also prevented the seizure of the ultimate prize of the fair Helen, whose face had launched a thousand ships. Checkmated by conventional means, the Greeks resorted to wile and to a psychological siren song which lulled the Trojans into a dreamy sleep. They also appealed to that universal human weakness of wanting to get something for nothing, of seeking serenity without sacrifice.

Signaling that they had given up the battle, the Greeks left the glittering gift of a Trojan horse at the gates of the city and apparently sailed away. However, unknown to the unsuspecting Trojans, an army of invaders was soon conveyed into their midst in the horse’s hollow belly. While Troy slept, the conquerors emerged from their hiding place and Troy was no more.

Perhaps the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, enraptured by the legend of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the entire ancient world, has watched an old Hollywood movie on the conquest of Troy? Perhaps he has even read a bit of Homer, although this seems less likely. In any event, Pyongyang has launched a seemingly successful campaign of undermining the Republic of Korea from within which would win the admiration of the ancient Greeks. Using the siren song of inter-Korean reconciliation, this DPRK propaganda offensive threatens those economic and political advances which have made South Korea the envy of the world. While an older generation, like Cassandra wailing at the gates of Troy, warns of dire consequences, a younger generation eagerly celebrates a Pyrrhic victory of inter-Korean reconciliation and ethnic unity, including an expulsion of the foreigners. Sadly, if this path is followed, it will only lead to the demise of that prosperous and dynamic South Korea which is the only life memory of these naive youth. North Korean economic policy is more akin to the Killing Fields of Pol Pot or Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which led to the suffering and death of so many fellow Asians, than it is to the glittering lights of Seoul or of the new Shanghai.

The United States, distracted elsewhere in the world, has largely left unanswered key propaganda points scored against the United States and the alliance by Pyongyang, aided and abetted by sympathetic elements in the South. Chairman Hyde raised some of these concerns in an October 6th letter to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes. The Chairman wrote:

“The subject of anti-Americanism in South Korea was again brought to my attention by the attempt of a violent crowd on September 11th, a date specifically chosen for its historic significance, to topple the statue of General Douglas MacArthur in Incheon. Recent polling by the South Korean press is equally disturbing. The Chosun Ilbo reported, in August poll results, that 65.9 percent of South Korean youth responded that they “would take the side of North Korea” in the event of a war between North Korea and the United States. In September, the Joongang Ilbo reported that a poll commissioned for the newspaper’s fortieth anniversary found that 54 percent of South Korean respondents now oppose the U.S. troop presence. Finally, the South Korean press has reported that American Olympic skater Apolo Anton Ohno, who will compete in an Olympic preliminary event in Seoul from October 7th to 9th, has received death threats due to a controversial decision by Olympic judges in his favor during the Salt Lake City Olympics.

I wrote to your predecessor, Under Secretary of State Beers, on January 29, 2003, that I was concerned by the closure of the three American Cultural Centers located outside of Seoul during the 1990s. This budget decision has greatly diminished our efforts to reach the hearts and minds of the skeptical youth in a nation that is a major ally and where we deploy large numbers of U.S. troops. This downsizing of public diplomacy efforts in South Korea has occurred concurrently with a vigorous and effective propaganda campaign by Pyongyang to reach out to South Korean society, to distort our shared history, and to promote hostility toward the United States and the alliance. We cannot afford to lose Korea due to inattention and lack of resources, especially given the fifty years of blood and treasure we have already expended there. With the President and Secretary Rice scheduled to visit Pusan in November for the APEC Summit, public diplomacy efforts in South Korea should be a priority.

Chairman Hyde was equally concerned over propaganda points scored by Pyongyang in the Joint Statement issued at the conclusion of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing on September 19th. At a hearing conducted yesterday by the International Relations Committee on the Six-Party Talks and the North Korean Nuclear Issue, Chairman Hyde stated:

“I am also concerned that the Joint Statement specifically raises a key Pyongyang propaganda point directly aimed at the South Korean public. This is the clear reference to supposed U.S. hostile intent. The statement says, “The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK (North Korea) with nuclear or conventional weapons. Yet where, in any portion of this statement, is there a reference to Pyongyang’s half-century of unswerving hostile intent directed at the Republic of Korea? This hostility is clearly demonstrated by the forward deployment of North Korean conventional forces and artillery near the DMZ, designed to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire. There is no mention of this present threat at all, notwithstanding the fact that its existence is the cornerstone of our 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of Korea.

The Chairman added:

“This clearly demonstrates that we cannot afford to cede any propaganda points to Pyongyang at this critical juncture. The future of our very alliance is at stake as we compete for the hearts and minds of South Korea’s people.”

There have been a number of press reports in Newsweek and elsewhere that the American negotiating team at the recent round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing compromised on a number of critical points to accommodate not only Beijing, but also Seoul. This was demonstrated by inclusion of language at the last minute in the Joint Statement raising again the issue of possible provision of light water reactors. There seems to be a Seoul-Beijing-Pyongyang nexus forming as the power broker in the multilateral negotiations. Seoul seems to accommodate Pyongyang as a means to move reconciliation forward and then expects Washington to accommodate in turn as a means of maintaining the appearance of a unified alliance.

A rising China, meanwhile, conducts the orchestra that plays the music for the Six-Party Talks. The music forms a melody which seems a siren song calling for preservation of a buffer state on the northern half of the Korean peninsula as the priority. China, after all, once went to war over this very issue. South Korean society, which seeks to put off the grim day of economic reckoning which will come with unification, seems to eagerly play its instrument to the Chinese beat. Some South Koreans note that bilateral trade with Beijing has surpassed that with Washington and look to a rising China and a declining America. South Korea, as I noted to a number of Chinese professors recently in Nanjing, seems a ripe apple hanging from a weak stem in a swaying wind, ready to fall into the lap of China. South Koreans face an hour of reckoning. Do they retain an alliance with the Great Power far across the ocean or return to their traditional vassal state relationship with the Middle Kingdom, a relationship which endured for centuries before being interrupted by Japanese expansionism? And is the pull toward China inevitably linked to the dream of inter-Korean reconciliation and eventual unification?

There is, of course, an obvious connection between efforts at inter-Korean reconciliation, since the launching of the sunshine policy of former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, and a growing disregard for the importance of the alliance by an increasing portion of the South Korean public. The above polling statistics make it clear that “Yankee, Go Home” is no longer a chant confined only to North Korea. Certain key events in the emergence of anti-American, pro-North Korean thinking, including the Kwangju Massacre of 1980, the coming to political maturity of the 386 generation, and the tragic death in an accident, caused by a USFK vehicle, of two school girls in 2002, have all been discussed at length elsewhere by myself and others. What is somewhat new is the skill with which Pyongyang makes use of events like these to further erode the U.S.-ROK relationship.

Many in Washington, myself included, wonder at the lengths that South Korean society appears willing to go in pursuit of reconciliation, no matter what the apparent cost. For example, people here are somewhat amazed at the willingness of South Korea, both following the 2000 Summit and in a more recent proposal, to turn over convicted North Korean agents without receiving one single South Korean abductee or Prisoner-of-War in return. While humanitarian gestures are always appreciated, the American people would not tolerate for five minutes news of the forced detention of a Prisoner-of-War from a past conflict. Yet the detention of hundreds of South Korean POWs as slave laborers in North Korean coal mines for half a century raises barely a whimper in Seoul. Is the price of reconciliation to be paid by the continued enslavement of old soldiers who were just doing their duty for the Republic of Korea?

What diplomatic advantages have come to Seoul in the quest for Korean reconciliation? Former President Kim Dae Jung once indicated in Berlin that his sunshine policy of reconciliation was based on the German model of Willy Brandt. Brandt’s policy of detente with East Germany, however, included as a key point the exchange of diplomatic missions in the two German capitals. The Joint Statement issued in Beijing speaks of normalization between Pyongyang and Washington and Pyongyang and Tokyo, but where is there any mention of steps toward normalization between Pyongyang and Seoul? Could it be that the basic tenet of the Korean Workers Party , which holds that Pyongyang is the only legitimate government and voice of the Korean people and that the southern government is nothing more than a puppet regime set up to serve foreign occupiers, precludes such formal recognition and diplomatic exchange?

South Korea may, in fact, have lost some prestige in the diplomatic world as a result of an unconditional pursuit of reconciliation with the North. This seemed the case last year in Geneva where I was present during the debate over the EU-sponsored resolution on North Korean human rights issues. Seoul’s abstention drew critical comments from members of a number of delegations. The new alarm in Seoul over the possibility that the vigorous efforts of the UN rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Professor Muntarbhorn of Thailand, may lead to a debate and possible resolution on North Korean human rights abuses during the current UN General Assembly is a cause for further skepticism in the world community. For some opinion leaders in South Korea to suggest that one of their fellow citizens should be a candidate to become the next UN Secretary General at a time that Seoul declines to make any meaningful comments on human rights abuses occurring on its own peninsula to its own people seems to some a contradiction.

Inter-Korean economic exchanges have also not gone particularly well. Reports of corrupt practices in inter-Korean economic projects, most recently involving an investigation of Hyundai Asan, do not give the American Congress much faith that future U.S. tax-dollar money committed to such projects will be money well spent. A Congress focused on the energy needs of its own citizens on the Gulf Coast, devastated by two hurricanes, does not have much inclination to vote energy assistance for North Korea, especially with reports of corruption filling the Seoul newspapers on a daily basis.

Is the price of Inter-Korean reconciliation also to be paid by rejecting the United States and its symbols? Does pleasing Pyongyang require the labeling of General Douglas MacArthur, twice liberator of South Korea, as a “war criminal” and the tearing down of his statue? How many statues of Kim Il Sung, whose forces MacArthur vanquished at Incheon and who was only saved from extinction by Chinese intervention, dot the northern half of the Korean peninsula?

Chairman Hyde also addressed the issue of MacArthur, his old commander from the liberation of the Philippines in World War II, in a recent letter:

“We, in the Congress, however, are disturbed to read reports of a number of activists who have gathered around General MacArthur’s statue above Inchon Harbor in the past several months, most recently on September 11th, and have engaged in violent attempts to tear down the statue. This movement to topple the MacArthur statue is reportedly gaining momentum around the anniversary date of the Inchon landing. According to U.S. press reports, “young radical leftists have led assaults on the 15-foot-tall statue. A complaint filed with the quasi-governmental Republic of Korea National Human Rights Commission, which is reviewing the statue controversy, condemns MacArthur as “a war criminal who massacred numerous civilians.
Needless to say, the Congress of the United States and the American people would never subscribe to such a description of a hero who led the Allied forces which liberated the Republic of Korea twice, first from the yoke of Japanese colonialism sixty years ago this summer and, secondly, through the brilliant execution of the Incheon landing fifty-five years ago this month. Our critical bilateral alliance was forged in the crucible of Inchon.

Who are the forces who would rewrite Korean history to deny the facts presented from the Archives opened by former Russian President Yeltsin regarding Kim Il Sung’s decision to deliberately attack South Korea in June 1950, and to paint General MacArthur as a “war criminal?” A key facilitator of Pyongyang’s ideological goals in South Korea is Chunkyojo, the National Teachers’ Union, one of the NGOs advocating the toppling of the MacArthur statue. The young people throwing rocks and demanding that MacArthur’s statue must go were taught their history in classrooms manned by these political zealots. The South Korean Ministry of Education has lost control of its curriculum in schools where USFK soldiers are identified as murderers while Kim Il Sung is glorified as the Marshall who single-handedly liberated Korea from Japanese colonialism. We all know that textbooks in Asia have been a source of much debate and grief, but the damage caused by distorted teaching of history is not confined to any one country. South Korea also has a textbook issue which needs to be addressed if the alliance with the United States is to be preserved. Governments have a right and responsibility to ensure that the curriculum presented to young people does not contain glaring distortions of history. And it is not, as some suggest, an issue of free speech. Try, for example, to teach KKK tenets in any Virginia school claiming that it is a matter of free speech.

While Americans have largely ignored developments on the Korean peninsula to their peril, including the behind-the-scenes workings of North Korean propaganda efforts in the South, the South Korean public has been enchanted by a siren song of romantic ethnic reconciliation. In the process, they have been encouraged to turn their backs on an old friend. The United States has sought to accommodate these nationalistic stirrings, seeking to move USFK headquarters out of Yongsan in Seoul, trying to lessen the American footprint on the southern portion of the peninsula, and taking a more accommodating stance on the North Korean nuclear issue. South Korea has also tried to show support and good will, both by the controversial decision to dispatch the third largest contingent of allied forces to Iraq and in generous assistance with Hurricane Katrina.

I fear, however, it may prove in both cases to be too little and too late. Sometimes viewing inter-Korean dialogue and the effect it has had on the alliance, I feel as if I am back at an Irish wake in the Chicago of my youth. The body, the alliance, is laid out in the front of the room for all to view. The United States, like some old uncle, is snoring in a corner of the room. The conservatives in South Korea kneel, like a group of grieving relatives, praying fervently for the deceased. The rest of the South Korean public stands in the back of the room, listening to the nasty whispers of some disaffected relative, North Korea, who insists that the deceased was nothing but a bum and a drunk anyway. All that remains is for the family to take a final view of the body before the undertaker then seals the coffin.

I hope that I am wrong. And perhaps it is presumptuous of me as a foreigner to make such candid comments on the situation regarding Korea. After all, as a Minister in the South Korean government once famously advised Chairman Hyde, “You are only allies, but the North Koreans are our brothers. Well, that is true. But I would wish to remind the Minister that the first two brothers on earth were Cain and Abel. In the end, Cain killed his brother. Thank you.

[Actual post date, Oct. 11, 2005]

Continue Reading

Key House Aide’s Remarks on the State of the U.S.-Korea Alliance

20th ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF
THE COUNCIL ON U.S.-KOREA SECURITY STUDIES

Changing Dynamics on the Korean Peninsula:
Implications for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

October 7, 2005
The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave., NE

Washington, DC

Paper: The Trojan Horse: Pyongyang’s Successful Propaganda Campaign to Win
the Hearts of South Koreans and Undermine the U.S.-ROK Alliance

by

Dennis P. Halpin
Professional Staff, House International Relations Committee

This paper reflects my own views and not necessarily, except where explicitly stated, the views of Chairman Hyde or the Committee on International Relations.

The ancient Greeks, as we all know well, faced a great deal of frustration after ten years of stalemate in their prolonged attempt to conquer the prosperous but well protected citadel of Troy. There was no way to penetrate the vast walls and reach the treasure house that lay within. Massive barriers also prevented the seizure of the ultimate prize of the fair Helen, whose face had launched a thousand ships. Checkmated by conventional means, the Greeks resorted to wile and to a psychological siren song which lulled the Trojans into a dreamy sleep. They also appealed to that universal human weakness of wanting to get something for nothing, of seeking serenity without sacrifice.

Signaling that they had given up the battle, the Greeks left the glittering gift of a Trojan horse at the gates of the city and apparently sailed away. However, unknown to the unsuspecting Trojans, an army of invaders was soon conveyed into their midst in the horse’s hollow belly. While Troy slept, the conquerors emerged from their hiding place and Troy was no more.

Perhaps the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, enraptured by the legend of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the entire ancient world, has watched an old Hollywood movie on the conquest of Troy? Perhaps he has even read a bit of Homer, although this seems less likely. In any event, Pyongyang has launched a seemingly successful campaign of undermining the Republic of Korea from within which would win the admiration of the ancient Greeks. Using the siren song of inter-Korean reconciliation, this DPRK propaganda offensive threatens those economic and political advances which have made South Korea the envy of the world. While an older generation, like Cassandra wailing at the gates of Troy, warns of dire consequences, a younger generation eagerly celebrates a Pyrrhic victory of inter-Korean reconciliation and ethnic unity, including an expulsion of the foreigners. Sadly, if this path is followed, it will only lead to the demise of that prosperous and dynamic South Korea which is the only life memory of these naive youth. North Korean economic policy is more akin to the Killing Fields of Pol Pot or Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which led to the suffering and death of so many fellow Asians, than it is to the glittering lights of Seoul or of the new Shanghai.

The United States, distracted elsewhere in the world, has largely left unanswered key propaganda points scored against the United States and the alliance by Pyongyang, aided and abetted by sympathetic elements in the South. Chairman Hyde raised some of these concerns in an October 6th letter to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes. The Chairman wrote:

“The subject of anti-Americanism in South Korea was again brought to my attention by the attempt of a violent crowd on September 11th, a date specifically chosen for its historic significance, to topple the statue of General Douglas MacArthur in Incheon. Recent polling by the South Korean press is equally disturbing. The Chosun Ilbo reported, in August poll results, that 65.9 percent of South Korean youth responded that they “would take the side of North Korea” in the event of a war between North Korea and the United States. In September, the Joongang Ilbo reported that a poll commissioned for the newspaper’s fortieth anniversary found that 54 percent of South Korean respondents now oppose the U.S. troop presence. Finally, the South Korean press has reported that American Olympic skater Apolo Anton Ohno, who will compete in an Olympic preliminary event in Seoul from October 7th to 9th, has received death threats due to a controversial decision by Olympic judges in his favor during the Salt Lake City Olympics.

I wrote to your predecessor, Under Secretary of State Beers, on January 29, 2003, that I was concerned by the closure of the three American Cultural Centers located outside of Seoul during the 1990s. This budget decision has greatly diminished our efforts to reach the hearts and minds of the skeptical youth in a nation that is a major ally and where we deploy large numbers of U.S. troops. This downsizing of public diplomacy efforts in South Korea has occurred concurrently with a vigorous and effective propaganda campaign by Pyongyang to reach out to South Korean society, to distort our shared history, and to promote hostility toward the United States and the alliance. We cannot afford to lose Korea due to inattention and lack of resources, especially given the fifty years of blood and treasure we have already expended there. With the President and Secretary Rice scheduled to visit Pusan in November for the APEC Summit, public diplomacy efforts in South Korea should be a priority.

Chairman Hyde was equally concerned over propaganda points scored by Pyongyang in the Joint Statement issued at the conclusion of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing on September 19th. At a hearing conducted yesterday by the International Relations Committee on the Six-Party Talks and the North Korean Nuclear Issue, Chairman Hyde stated:

“I am also concerned that the Joint Statement specifically raises a key Pyongyang propaganda point directly aimed at the South Korean public. This is the clear reference to supposed U.S. hostile intent. The statement says, “The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK (North Korea) with nuclear or conventional weapons. Yet where, in any portion of this statement, is there a reference to Pyongyang’s half-century of unswerving hostile intent directed at the Republic of Korea? This hostility is clearly demonstrated by the forward deployment of North Korean conventional forces and artillery near the DMZ, designed to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire. There is no mention of this present threat at all, notwithstanding the fact that its existence is the cornerstone of our 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of Korea.

The Chairman added:

“This clearly demonstrates that we cannot afford to cede any propaganda points to Pyongyang at this critical juncture. The future of our very alliance is at stake as we compete for the hearts and minds of South Korea’s people.”

There have been a number of press reports in Newsweek and elsewhere that the American negotiating team at the recent round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing compromised on a number of critical points to accommodate not only Beijing, but also Seoul. This was demonstrated by inclusion of language at the last minute in the Joint Statement raising again the issue of possible provision of light water reactors. There seems to be a Seoul-Beijing-Pyongyang nexus forming as the power broker in the multilateral negotiations. Seoul seems to accommodate Pyongyang as a means to move reconciliation forward and then expects Washington to accommodate in turn as a means of maintaining the appearance of a unified alliance.

A rising China, meanwhile, conducts the orchestra that plays the music for the Six-Party Talks. The music forms a melody which seems a siren song calling for preservation of a buffer state on the northern half of the Korean peninsula as the priority. China, after all, once went to war over this very issue. South Korean society, which seeks to put off the grim day of economic reckoning which will come with unification, seems to eagerly play its instrument to the Chinese beat. Some South Koreans note that bilateral trade with Beijing has surpassed that with Washington and look to a rising China and a declining America. South Korea, as I noted to a number of Chinese professors recently in Nanjing, seems a ripe apple hanging from a weak stem in a swaying wind, ready to fall into the lap of China. South Koreans face an hour of reckoning. Do they retain an alliance with the Great Power far across the ocean or return to their traditional vassal state relationship with the Middle Kingdom, a relationship which endured for centuries before being interrupted by Japanese expansionism? And is the pull toward China inevitably linked to the dream of inter-Korean reconciliation and eventual unification?

There is, of course, an obvious connection between efforts at inter-Korean reconciliation, since the launching of the sunshine policy of former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, and a growing disregard for the importance of the alliance by an increasing portion of the South Korean public. The above polling statistics make it clear that “Yankee, Go Home” is no longer a chant confined only to North Korea. Certain key events in the emergence of anti-American, pro-North Korean thinking, including the Kwangju Massacre of 1980, the coming to political maturity of the 386 generation, and the tragic death in an accident, caused by a USFK vehicle, of two school girls in 2002, have all been discussed at length elsewhere by myself and others. What is somewhat new is the skill with which Pyongyang makes use of events like these to further erode the U.S.-ROK relationship.

Many in Washington, myself included, wonder at the lengths that South Korean society appears willing to go in pursuit of reconciliation, no matter what the apparent cost. For example, people here are somewhat amazed at the willingness of South Korea, both following the 2000 Summit and in a more recent proposal, to turn over convicted North Korean agents without receiving one single South Korean abductee or Prisoner-of-War in return. While humanitarian gestures are always appreciated, the American people would not tolerate for five minutes news of the forced detention of a Prisoner-of-War from a past conflict. Yet the detention of hundreds of South Korean POWs as slave laborers in North Korean coal mines for half a century raises barely a whimper in Seoul. Is the price of reconciliation to be paid by the continued enslavement of old soldiers who were just doing their duty for the Republic of Korea?

What diplomatic advantages have come to Seoul in the quest for Korean reconciliation? Former President Kim Dae Jung once indicated in Berlin that his sunshine policy of reconciliation was based on the German model of Willy Brandt. Brandt’s policy of detente with East Germany, however, included as a key point the exchange of diplomatic missions in the two German capitals. The Joint Statement issued in Beijing speaks of normalization between Pyongyang and Washington and Pyongyang and Tokyo, but where is there any mention of steps toward normalization between Pyongyang and Seoul? Could it be that the basic tenet of the Korean Workers Party , which holds that Pyongyang is the only legitimate government and voice of the Korean people and that the southern government is nothing more than a puppet regime set up to serve foreign occupiers, precludes such formal recognition and diplomatic exchange?

South Korea may, in fact, have lost some prestige in the diplomatic world as a result of an unconditional pursuit of reconciliation with the North. This seemed the case last year in Geneva where I was present during the debate over the EU-sponsored resolution on North Korean human rights issues. Seoul’s abstention drew critical comments from members of a number of delegations. The new alarm in Seoul over the possibility that the vigorous efforts of the UN rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Professor Muntarbhorn of Thailand, may lead to a debate and possible resolution on North Korean human rights abuses during the current UN General Assembly is a cause for further skepticism in the world community. For some opinion leaders in South Korea to suggest that one of their fellow citizens should be a candidate to become the next UN Secretary General at a time that Seoul declines to make any meaningful comments on human rights abuses occurring on its own peninsula to its own people seems to some a contradiction.

Inter-Korean economic exchanges have also not gone particularly well. Reports of corrupt practices in inter-Korean economic projects, most recently involving an investigation of Hyundai Asan, do not give the American Congress much faith that future U.S. tax-dollar money committed to such projects will be money well spent. A Congress focused on the energy needs of its own citizens on the Gulf Coast, devastated by two hurricanes, does not have much inclination to vote energy assistance for North Korea, especially with reports of corruption filling the Seoul newspapers on a daily basis.

Is the price of Inter-Korean reconciliation also to be paid by rejecting the United States and its symbols? Does pleasing Pyongyang require the labeling of General Douglas MacArthur, twice liberator of South Korea, as a “war criminal” and the tearing down of his statue? How many statues of Kim Il Sung, whose forces MacArthur vanquished at Incheon and who was only saved from extinction by Chinese intervention, dot the northern half of the Korean peninsula?

Chairman Hyde also addressed the issue of MacArthur, his old commander from the liberation of the Philippines in World War II, in a recent letter:

“We, in the Congress, however, are disturbed to read reports of a number of activists who have gathered around General MacArthur’s statue above Inchon Harbor in the past several months, most recently on September 11th, and have engaged in violent attempts to tear down the statue. This movement to topple the MacArthur statue is reportedly gaining momentum around the anniversary date of the Inchon landing. According to U.S. press reports, “young radical leftists have led assaults on the 15-foot-tall statue. A complaint filed with the quasi-governmental Republic of Korea National Human Rights Commission, which is reviewing the statue controversy, condemns MacArthur as “a war criminal who massacred numerous civilians.
Needless to say, the Congress of the United States and the American people would never subscribe to such a description of a hero who led the Allied forces which liberated the Republic of Korea twice, first from the yoke of Japanese colonialism sixty years ago this summer and, secondly, through the brilliant execution of the Incheon landing fifty-five years ago this month. Our critical bilateral alliance was forged in the crucible of Inchon.

Who are the forces who would rewrite Korean history to deny the facts presented from the Archives opened by former Russian President Yeltsin regarding Kim Il Sung’s decision to deliberately attack South Korea in June 1950, and to paint General MacArthur as a “war criminal?” A key facilitator of Pyongyang’s ideological goals in South Korea is Chunkyojo, the National Teachers’ Union, one of the NGOs advocating the toppling of the MacArthur statue. The young people throwing rocks and demanding that MacArthur’s statue must go were taught their history in classrooms manned by these political zealots. The South Korean Ministry of Education has lost control of its curriculum in schools where USFK soldiers are identified as murderers while Kim Il Sung is glorified as the Marshall who single-handedly liberated Korea from Japanese colonialism. We all know that textbooks in Asia have been a source of much debate and grief, but the damage caused by distorted teaching of history is not confined to any one country. South Korea also has a textbook issue which needs to be addressed if the alliance with the United States is to be preserved. Governments have a right and responsibility to ensure that the curriculum presented to young people does not contain glaring distortions of history. And it is not, as some suggest, an issue of free speech. Try, for example, to teach KKK tenets in any Virginia school claiming that it is a matter of free speech.

While Americans have largely ignored developments on the Korean peninsula to their peril, including the behind-the-scenes workings of North Korean propaganda efforts in the South, the South Korean public has been enchanted by a siren song of romantic ethnic reconciliation. In the process, they have been encouraged to turn their backs on an old friend. The United States has sought to accommodate these nationalistic stirrings, seeking to move USFK headquarters out of Yongsan in Seoul, trying to lessen the American footprint on the southern portion of the peninsula, and taking a more accommodating stance on the North Korean nuclear issue. South Korea has also tried to show support and good will, both by the controversial decision to dispatch the third largest contingent of allied forces to Iraq and in generous assistance with Hurricane Katrina.

I fear, however, it may prove in both cases to be too little and too late. Sometimes viewing inter-Korean dialogue and the effect it has had on the alliance, I feel as if I am back at an Irish wake in the Chicago of my youth. The body, the alliance, is laid out in the front of the room for all to view. The United States, like some old uncle, is snoring in a corner of the room. The conservatives in South Korea kneel, like a group of grieving relatives, praying fervently for the deceased. The rest of the South Korean public stands in the back of the room, listening to the nasty whispers of some disaffected relative, North Korea, who insists that the deceased was nothing but a bum and a drunk anyway. All that remains is for the family to take a final view of the body before the undertaker then seals the coffin.

I hope that I am wrong. And perhaps it is presumptuous of me as a foreigner to make such candid comments on the situation regarding Korea. After all, as a Minister in the South Korean government once famously advised Chairman Hyde, “You are only allies, but the North Koreans are our brothers. Well, that is true. But I would wish to remind the Minister that the first two brothers on earth were Cain and Abel. In the end, Cain killed his brother. Thank you.

[Actual post date, Oct. 11, 2005]

Continue Reading

Key House Aide’s Remarks on the State of the U.S.-Korea Alliance

20th ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF
THE COUNCIL ON U.S.-KOREA SECURITY STUDIES

Changing Dynamics on the Korean Peninsula:
Implications for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

October 7, 2005
The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave., NE

Washington, DC

Paper: The Trojan Horse: Pyongyang’s Successful Propaganda Campaign to Win
the Hearts of South Koreans and Undermine the U.S.-ROK Alliance

by

Dennis P. Halpin
Professional Staff, House International Relations Committee

This paper reflects my own views and not necessarily, except where explicitly stated, the views of Chairman Hyde or the Committee on International Relations.

The ancient Greeks, as we all know well, faced a great deal of frustration after ten years of stalemate in their prolonged attempt to conquer the prosperous but well protected citadel of Troy. There was no way to penetrate the vast walls and reach the treasure house that lay within. Massive barriers also prevented the seizure of the ultimate prize of the fair Helen, whose face had launched a thousand ships. Checkmated by conventional means, the Greeks resorted to wile and to a psychological siren song which lulled the Trojans into a dreamy sleep. They also appealed to that universal human weakness of wanting to get something for nothing, of seeking serenity without sacrifice.

Signaling that they had given up the battle, the Greeks left the glittering gift of a Trojan horse at the gates of the city and apparently sailed away. However, unknown to the unsuspecting Trojans, an army of invaders was soon conveyed into their midst in the horse’s hollow belly. While Troy slept, the conquerors emerged from their hiding place and Troy was no more.

Perhaps the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, enraptured by the legend of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the entire ancient world, has watched an old Hollywood movie on the conquest of Troy? Perhaps he has even read a bit of Homer, although this seems less likely. In any event, Pyongyang has launched a seemingly successful campaign of undermining the Republic of Korea from within which would win the admiration of the ancient Greeks. Using the siren song of inter-Korean reconciliation, this DPRK propaganda offensive threatens those economic and political advances which have made South Korea the envy of the world. While an older generation, like Cassandra wailing at the gates of Troy, warns of dire consequences, a younger generation eagerly celebrates a Pyrrhic victory of inter-Korean reconciliation and ethnic unity, including an expulsion of the foreigners. Sadly, if this path is followed, it will only lead to the demise of that prosperous and dynamic South Korea which is the only life memory of these naive youth. North Korean economic policy is more akin to the Killing Fields of Pol Pot or Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which led to the suffering and death of so many fellow Asians, than it is to the glittering lights of Seoul or of the new Shanghai.

The United States, distracted elsewhere in the world, has largely left unanswered key propaganda points scored against the United States and the alliance by Pyongyang, aided and abetted by sympathetic elements in the South. Chairman Hyde raised some of these concerns in an October 6th letter to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes. The Chairman wrote:

“The subject of anti-Americanism in South Korea was again brought to my attention by the attempt of a violent crowd on September 11th, a date specifically chosen for its historic significance, to topple the statue of General Douglas MacArthur in Incheon. Recent polling by the South Korean press is equally disturbing. The Chosun Ilbo reported, in August poll results, that 65.9 percent of South Korean youth responded that they “would take the side of North Korea” in the event of a war between North Korea and the United States. In September, the Joongang Ilbo reported that a poll commissioned for the newspaper’s fortieth anniversary found that 54 percent of South Korean respondents now oppose the U.S. troop presence. Finally, the South Korean press has reported that American Olympic skater Apolo Anton Ohno, who will compete in an Olympic preliminary event in Seoul from October 7th to 9th, has received death threats due to a controversial decision by Olympic judges in his favor during the Salt Lake City Olympics.

I wrote to your predecessor, Under Secretary of State Beers, on January 29, 2003, that I was concerned by the closure of the three American Cultural Centers located outside of Seoul during the 1990s. This budget decision has greatly diminished our efforts to reach the hearts and minds of the skeptical youth in a nation that is a major ally and where we deploy large numbers of U.S. troops. This downsizing of public diplomacy efforts in South Korea has occurred concurrently with a vigorous and effective propaganda campaign by Pyongyang to reach out to South Korean society, to distort our shared history, and to promote hostility toward the United States and the alliance. We cannot afford to lose Korea due to inattention and lack of resources, especially given the fifty years of blood and treasure we have already expended there. With the President and Secretary Rice scheduled to visit Pusan in November for the APEC Summit, public diplomacy efforts in South Korea should be a priority.

Chairman Hyde was equally concerned over propaganda points scored by Pyongyang in the Joint Statement issued at the conclusion of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing on September 19th. At a hearing conducted yesterday by the International Relations Committee on the Six-Party Talks and the North Korean Nuclear Issue, Chairman Hyde stated:

“I am also concerned that the Joint Statement specifically raises a key Pyongyang propaganda point directly aimed at the South Korean public. This is the clear reference to supposed U.S. hostile intent. The statement says, “The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK (North Korea) with nuclear or conventional weapons. Yet where, in any portion of this statement, is there a reference to Pyongyang’s half-century of unswerving hostile intent directed at the Republic of Korea? This hostility is clearly demonstrated by the forward deployment of North Korean conventional forces and artillery near the DMZ, designed to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire. There is no mention of this present threat at all, notwithstanding the fact that its existence is the cornerstone of our 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of Korea.

The Chairman added:

“This clearly demonstrates that we cannot afford to cede any propaganda points to Pyongyang at this critical juncture. The future of our very alliance is at stake as we compete for the hearts and minds of South Korea’s people.”

There have been a number of press reports in Newsweek and elsewhere that the American negotiating team at the recent round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing compromised on a number of critical points to accommodate not only Beijing, but also Seoul. This was demonstrated by inclusion of language at the last minute in the Joint Statement raising again the issue of possible provision of light water reactors. There seems to be a Seoul-Beijing-Pyongyang nexus forming as the power broker in the multilateral negotiations. Seoul seems to accommodate Pyongyang as a means to move reconciliation forward and then expects Washington to accommodate in turn as a means of maintaining the appearance of a unified alliance.

A rising China, meanwhile, conducts the orchestra that plays the music for the Six-Party Talks. The music forms a melody which seems a siren song calling for preservation of a buffer state on the northern half of the Korean peninsula as the priority. China, after all, once went to war over this very issue. South Korean society, which seeks to put off the grim day of economic reckoning which will come with unification, seems to eagerly play its instrument to the Chinese beat. Some South Koreans note that bilateral trade with Beijing has surpassed that with Washington and look to a rising China and a declining America. South Korea, as I noted to a number of Chinese professors recently in Nanjing, seems a ripe apple hanging from a weak stem in a swaying wind, ready to fall into the lap of China. South Koreans face an hour of reckoning. Do they retain an alliance with the Great Power far across the ocean or return to their traditional vassal state relationship with the Middle Kingdom, a relationship which endured for centuries before being interrupted by Japanese expansionism? And is the pull toward China inevitably linked to the dream of inter-Korean reconciliation and eventual unification?

There is, of course, an obvious connection between efforts at inter-Korean reconciliation, since the launching of the sunshine policy of former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, and a growing disregard for the importance of the alliance by an increasing portion of the South Korean public. The above polling statistics make it clear that “Yankee, Go Home” is no longer a chant confined only to North Korea. Certain key events in the emergence of anti-American, pro-North Korean thinking, including the Kwangju Massacre of 1980, the coming to political maturity of the 386 generation, and the tragic death in an accident, caused by a USFK vehicle, of two school girls in 2002, have all been discussed at length elsewhere by myself and others. What is somewhat new is the skill with which Pyongyang makes use of events like these to further erode the U.S.-ROK relationship.

Many in Washington, myself included, wonder at the lengths that South Korean society appears willing to go in pursuit of reconciliation, no matter what the apparent cost. For example, people here are somewhat amazed at the willingness of South Korea, both following the 2000 Summit and in a more recent proposal, to turn over convicted North Korean agents without receiving one single South Korean abductee or Prisoner-of-War in return. While humanitarian gestures are always appreciated, the American people would not tolerate for five minutes news of the forced detention of a Prisoner-of-War from a past conflict. Yet the detention of hundreds of South Korean POWs as slave laborers in North Korean coal mines for half a century raises barely a whimper in Seoul. Is the price of reconciliation to be paid by the continued enslavement of old soldiers who were just doing their duty for the Republic of Korea?

What diplomatic advantages have come to Seoul in the quest for Korean reconciliation? Former President Kim Dae Jung once indicated in Berlin that his sunshine policy of reconciliation was based on the German model of Willy Brandt. Brandt’s policy of detente with East Germany, however, included as a key point the exchange of diplomatic missions in the two German capitals. The Joint Statement issued in Beijing speaks of normalization between Pyongyang and Washington and Pyongyang and Tokyo, but where is there any mention of steps toward normalization between Pyongyang and Seoul? Could it be that the basic tenet of the Korean Workers Party , which holds that Pyongyang is the only legitimate government and voice of the Korean people and that the southern government is nothing more than a puppet regime set up to serve foreign occupiers, precludes such formal recognition and diplomatic exchange?

South Korea may, in fact, have lost some prestige in the diplomatic world as a result of an unconditional pursuit of reconciliation with the North. This seemed the case last year in Geneva where I was present during the debate over the EU-sponsored resolution on North Korean human rights issues. Seoul’s abstention drew critical comments from members of a number of delegations. The new alarm in Seoul over the possibility that the vigorous efforts of the UN rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Professor Muntarbhorn of Thailand, may lead to a debate and possible resolution on North Korean human rights abuses during the current UN General Assembly is a cause for further skepticism in the world community. For some opinion leaders in South Korea to suggest that one of their fellow citizens should be a candidate to become the next UN Secretary General at a time that Seoul declines to make any meaningful comments on human rights abuses occurring on its own peninsula to its own people seems to some a contradiction.

Inter-Korean economic exchanges have also not gone particularly well. Reports of corrupt practices in inter-Korean economic projects, most recently involving an investigation of Hyundai Asan, do not give the American Congress much faith that future U.S. tax-dollar money committed to such projects will be money well spent. A Congress focused on the energy needs of its own citizens on the Gulf Coast, devastated by two hurricanes, does not have much inclination to vote energy assistance for North Korea, especially with reports of corruption filling the Seoul newspapers on a daily basis.

Is the price of Inter-Korean reconciliation also to be paid by rejecting the United States and its symbols? Does pleasing Pyongyang require the labeling of General Douglas MacArthur, twice liberator of South Korea, as a “war criminal” and the tearing down of his statue? How many statues of Kim Il Sung, whose forces MacArthur vanquished at Incheon and who was only saved from extinction by Chinese intervention, dot the northern half of the Korean peninsula?

Chairman Hyde also addressed the issue of MacArthur, his old commander from the liberation of the Philippines in World War II, in a recent letter:

“We, in the Congress, however, are disturbed to read reports of a number of activists who have gathered around General MacArthur’s statue above Inchon Harbor in the past several months, most recently on September 11th, and have engaged in violent attempts to tear down the statue. This movement to topple the MacArthur statue is reportedly gaining momentum around the anniversary date of the Inchon landing. According to U.S. press reports, “young radical leftists have led assaults on the 15-foot-tall statue. A complaint filed with the quasi-governmental Republic of Korea National Human Rights Commission, which is reviewing the statue controversy, condemns MacArthur as “a war criminal who massacred numerous civilians.
Needless to say, the Congress of the United States and the American people would never subscribe to such a description of a hero who led the Allied forces which liberated the Republic of Korea twice, first from the yoke of Japanese colonialism sixty years ago this summer and, secondly, through the brilliant execution of the Incheon landing fifty-five years ago this month. Our critical bilateral alliance was forged in the crucible of Inchon.

Who are the forces who would rewrite Korean history to deny the facts presented from the Archives opened by former Russian President Yeltsin regarding Kim Il Sung’s decision to deliberately attack South Korea in June 1950, and to paint General MacArthur as a “war criminal?” A key facilitator of Pyongyang’s ideological goals in South Korea is Chunkyojo, the National Teachers’ Union, one of the NGOs advocating the toppling of the MacArthur statue. The young people throwing rocks and demanding that MacArthur’s statue must go were taught their history in classrooms manned by these political zealots. The South Korean Ministry of Education has lost control of its curriculum in schools where USFK soldiers are identified as murderers while Kim Il Sung is glorified as the Marshall who single-handedly liberated Korea from Japanese colonialism. We all know that textbooks in Asia have been a source of much debate and grief, but the damage caused by distorted teaching of history is not confined to any one country. South Korea also has a textbook issue which needs to be addressed if the alliance with the United States is to be preserved. Governments have a right and responsibility to ensure that the curriculum presented to young people does not contain glaring distortions of history. And it is not, as some suggest, an issue of free speech. Try, for example, to teach KKK tenets in any Virginia school claiming that it is a matter of free speech.

While Americans have largely ignored developments on the Korean peninsula to their peril, including the behind-the-scenes workings of North Korean propaganda efforts in the South, the South Korean public has been enchanted by a siren song of romantic ethnic reconciliation. In the process, they have been encouraged to turn their backs on an old friend. The United States has sought to accommodate these nationalistic stirrings, seeking to move USFK headquarters out of Yongsan in Seoul, trying to lessen the American footprint on the southern portion of the peninsula, and taking a more accommodating stance on the North Korean nuclear issue. South Korea has also tried to show support and good will, both by the controversial decision to dispatch the third largest contingent of allied forces to Iraq and in generous assistance with Hurricane Katrina.

I fear, however, it may prove in both cases to be too little and too late. Sometimes viewing inter-Korean dialogue and the effect it has had on the alliance, I feel as if I am back at an Irish wake in the Chicago of my youth. The body, the alliance, is laid out in the front of the room for all to view. The United States, like some old uncle, is snoring in a corner of the room. The conservatives in South Korea kneel, like a group of grieving relatives, praying fervently for the deceased. The rest of the South Korean public stands in the back of the room, listening to the nasty whispers of some disaffected relative, North Korea, who insists that the deceased was nothing but a bum and a drunk anyway. All that remains is for the family to take a final view of the body before the undertaker then seals the coffin.

I hope that I am wrong. And perhaps it is presumptuous of me as a foreigner to make such candid comments on the situation regarding Korea. After all, as a Minister in the South Korean government once famously advised Chairman Hyde, “You are only allies, but the North Koreans are our brothers. Well, that is true. But I would wish to remind the Minister that the first two brothers on earth were Cain and Abel. In the end, Cain killed his brother. Thank you.

[Actual post date, Oct. 11, 2005]

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OFK Archive: Anti-Americanism in Korea–The Statistical Record

[Update 7/2006: There are signs of a modest improvement — possibly more of a backlash against the violence of the radical left — although these results hardly indicate a groundswell, nor are the questions worded in such a way as to make the data comparable to what is posted below.]

Here is a listing of some of the recent relevant polling data on anti-Americanism in South Korea, with a particular emphasis on the views of younger voters:

June 2003–Pew Global Attitudes Project / Gallup Korea.

719 adults, face-to-face. Margin of error, 3.7%.

  • 58% of South Koreans were disappointed that the Iraqi Army did not fight harder outside Baghdad, more than twice the number (26%) who said they were “happy” with the quick Iraqi collapse. This result was within the “moderate” range of opinion in the Muslim world, but far outside results in Europe or North America. In France, for example, the results were very near the opposite.
  • The “favorable” view of the United States dropped from 58% in 1999-2000, to 53% in summer 2002, to 46% in summer 2003. Of those with unfavorable views of the United States, more than 80% thought the “problem” was not just Bush, but was at least partly the result of the American people themselves. This latter figure was an outlier among nations surveyed.
  • 22% had started boycotting U.S. goods. 29% had considered it. This was the highest number outside the Muslim world.
  • Just 24% supported the U.S.-led War on Terror, also a result that fit within the number in the Muslim world.
  • However, during the same period, South Korean views of Americans actually increased from 61% to 74% favorable.

South Koreans’ political values:

  • Only 43% considered honest and competitive elections a “must,” also in line with views in the Muslim world.
  • Only 48% considered it “very important” to live in a country with a free press; fair judicary, 59%; religious freedom, 58%; free speech, 57%. Those were among the lowest survey results in Asia.
  • Given two options, which should South Korea rely on? Democratic government, 61%; strong leader, 36%.
  • “Our way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence.” 82% agree; 16% disagree. Again, the number was more consistent with African and Middle Eastern views than those in Asia, North America, or Europe.
  • On the other hand, just 7% of South Koreans want to “restrict the entry of people into our country,” the lowest result of any country.
  • 75% of Koreans, the second-highest number (over Turkey at 76%) believed that the nation’s success “is determined by forces outside our control.”

November 2004, Frontier Times / National Policy Research Center.

In the event of war between the U.S. and North Korea, 20% of South Koreans say their country should take the North’s side; another 30% were undecided. Significant differences by both age and region (in Kwangju, as many people would side with the North as with the U.S.).

  • Greatest threat to South Korea’s security: 37.1%, Japan; 28.6%, North Korea; 18.5%, United States, 11.9%, China.
  • By contrast, the company’s poll in January 2004 found that 39 percent of the respondents said the United States was the most threatening country to Korea and 33% named North Korea. At that time, only 7.6 percent of those surveyed counted Japan as most threatening. Among respondents in their 20s, 58% said the U.S. was the greatest threat; only 20% said North Korea was (for further contrast, a 1993 Gallup Korea survey found the numbers to be North Korea, 44%; Japan, 15%; China, 4%; and the United States, 1%.
  • “Of the respondents who said the United States is threatening, 29.2 percent were in their 20s and 26.4 percent were in their 30s. Only 13. 7 percent in their 40s and 8.1 percent in their 50s said the country threatens Korea. ”
  • [S]lightly more than half . . . said inter-Korean economic cooperation and South Korean aid to North Korea should continue, regardless of Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons.
  • Those in favor of this were predominantly governing Uri Party supporters in their 30s and 40s; those against were largely opposition Grand National supporters, aged 50 or over.

April 2005–Frontier Times and 21st Century Research

Telephone poll of over 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1%.

  • Greatest threat to South Korea’s security: first, the United States (29.5%); second, Japan (29.2%); third, North Korea (18.4%).
  • 44.4% of South Koreans believe North Korea’s nukes are good for Korea.
  • 45.7% of people in 20s and 50.1% of students believe the U.S. is the number one threat to Korea.

May 2005, Munhwa Ilbo / KSOI (ht: The Marmot)

  • If the U.S. unilaterally attacks North Korea, whose side should the South Korean government take? North Korea, 47.6%; the United States, 31.2%. By a narrow margin, even supporters of South Korea’s “conservative” Grand National Party believed that the South should side with the North against the United States.

August 2005, Gallup Korea / Chosun Ilbo

Survey of 833 individuals born between 1980 and 1989.

  • In a war between the United States and North Korea, whose side would you take? North Korea, 65.9%; United States, 21.8%; undecided, 12.3%.
  • Ironically, when the same respondents were asked where they’d prefer live if they lived abroad, 17.9% named Australia, 16.8% the U.S., and 15.3% Japan. “Fourteen nations including equally uninviting Iraq and Iran did better than North Korea by attracting one respondent each.”
  • The conservative Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest-circulation daily, tried to put a bright face on it, calling the results an indicator of “pragmatic patriotism.”

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OFK Archive: Anti-Americanism in Korea–The Statistical Record

[Update 7/2006: There are signs of a modest improvement — possibly more of a backlash against the violence of the radical left — although these results hardly indicate a groundswell, nor are the questions worded in such a way as to make the data comparable to what is posted below.]

Here is a listing of some of the recent relevant polling data on anti-Americanism in South Korea, with a particular emphasis on the views of younger voters:

June 2003–Pew Global Attitudes Project / Gallup Korea.

719 adults, face-to-face. Margin of error, 3.7%.

  • 58% of South Koreans were disappointed that the Iraqi Army did not fight harder outside Baghdad, more than twice the number (26%) who said they were “happy” with the quick Iraqi collapse. This result was within the “moderate” range of opinion in the Muslim world, but far outside results in Europe or North America. In France, for example, the results were very near the opposite.
  • The “favorable” view of the United States dropped from 58% in 1999-2000, to 53% in summer 2002, to 46% in summer 2003. Of those with unfavorable views of the United States, more than 80% thought the “problem” was not just Bush, but was at least partly the result of the American people themselves. This latter figure was an outlier among nations surveyed.
  • 22% had started boycotting U.S. goods. 29% had considered it. This was the highest number outside the Muslim world.
  • Just 24% supported the U.S.-led War on Terror, also a result that fit within the number in the Muslim world.
  • However, during the same period, South Korean views of Americans actually increased from 61% to 74% favorable.

South Koreans’ political values:

  • Only 43% considered honest and competitive elections a “must,” also in line with views in the Muslim world.
  • Only 48% considered it “very important” to live in a country with a free press; fair judicary, 59%; religious freedom, 58%; free speech, 57%. Those were among the lowest survey results in Asia.
  • Given two options, which should South Korea rely on? Democratic government, 61%; strong leader, 36%.
  • “Our way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence.” 82% agree; 16% disagree. Again, the number was more consistent with African and Middle Eastern views than those in Asia, North America, or Europe.
  • On the other hand, just 7% of South Koreans want to “restrict the entry of people into our country,” the lowest result of any country.
  • 75% of Koreans, the second-highest number (over Turkey at 76%) believed that the nation’s success “is determined by forces outside our control.”

November 2004, Frontier Times / National Policy Research Center.

In the event of war between the U.S. and North Korea, 20% of South Koreans say their country should take the North’s side; another 30% were undecided. Significant differences by both age and region (in Kwangju, as many people would side with the North as with the U.S.).

  • Greatest threat to South Korea’s security: 37.1%, Japan; 28.6%, North Korea; 18.5%, United States, 11.9%, China.
  • By contrast, the company’s poll in January 2004 found that 39 percent of the respondents said the United States was the most threatening country to Korea and 33% named North Korea. At that time, only 7.6 percent of those surveyed counted Japan as most threatening. Among respondents in their 20s, 58% said the U.S. was the greatest threat; only 20% said North Korea was (for further contrast, a 1993 Gallup Korea survey found the numbers to be North Korea, 44%; Japan, 15%; China, 4%; and the United States, 1%.
  • “Of the respondents who said the United States is threatening, 29.2 percent were in their 20s and 26.4 percent were in their 30s. Only 13. 7 percent in their 40s and 8.1 percent in their 50s said the country threatens Korea. ”
  • [S]lightly more than half . . . said inter-Korean economic cooperation and South Korean aid to North Korea should continue, regardless of Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons.
  • Those in favor of this were predominantly governing Uri Party supporters in their 30s and 40s; those against were largely opposition Grand National supporters, aged 50 or over.

April 2005–Frontier Times and 21st Century Research

Telephone poll of over 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1%.

  • Greatest threat to South Korea’s security: first, the United States (29.5%); second, Japan (29.2%); third, North Korea (18.4%).
  • 44.4% of South Koreans believe North Korea’s nukes are good for Korea.
  • 45.7% of people in 20s and 50.1% of students believe the U.S. is the number one threat to Korea.

May 2005, Munhwa Ilbo / KSOI (ht: The Marmot)

  • If the U.S. unilaterally attacks North Korea, whose side should the South Korean government take? North Korea, 47.6%; the United States, 31.2%. By a narrow margin, even supporters of South Korea’s “conservative” Grand National Party believed that the South should side with the North against the United States.

August 2005, Gallup Korea / Chosun Ilbo

Survey of 833 individuals born between 1980 and 1989.

  • In a war between the United States and North Korea, whose side would you take? North Korea, 65.9%; United States, 21.8%; undecided, 12.3%.
  • Ironically, when the same respondents were asked where they’d prefer live if they lived abroad, 17.9% named Australia, 16.8% the U.S., and 15.3% Japan. “Fourteen nations including equally uninviting Iraq and Iran did better than North Korea by attracting one respondent each.”
  • The conservative Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest-circulation daily, tried to put a bright face on it, calling the results an indicator of “pragmatic patriotism.”

Continue Reading

OFK Archive: Anti-Americanism in Korea–The Statistical Record

Here is a listing of some of the recent relevant polling data on anti-Americanism in South Korea, with a particular emphasis on the views of younger voters:

June 2003–Pew Global Attitudes Project / Gallup Korea.

719 adults, face-to-face. Margin of error, 3.7%.

  • 58% of South Koreans were disappointed that the Iraqi Army did not fight harder outside Baghdad, more than twice the number (26%) who said they were “happy” with the quick Iraqi collapse. This result was within the “moderate” range of opinion in the Muslim world, but far outside results in Europe or North America. In France, for example, the results were very near the opposite.
  • The “favorable” view of the United States dropped from 58% in 1999-2000, to 53% in summer 2002, to 46% in summer 2003. Of those with unfavorable views of the United States, more than 80% thought the “problem” was not just Bush, but was at least partly the result of the American people themselves. This latter figure was an outlier among nations surveyed.
  • 22% had started boycotting U.S. goods. 29% had considered it. This was the highest number outside the Muslim world.
  • Just 24% supported the U.S.-led War on Terror, also a result that fit within the number in the Muslim world.
  • However, during the same period, South Korean views of Americans actually increased from 61% to 74% favorable.

South Koreans’ political values:

  • Only 43% considered honest and competitive elections a “must,” also in line with views in the Muslim world.
  • Only 48% considered it “very important” to live in a country with a free press; fair judicary, 59%; religious freedom, 58%; free speech, 57%. Those were among the lowest survey results in Asia.
  • Given two options, which should South Korea rely on? Democratic government, 61%; strong leader, 36%.
  • “Our way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence.” 82% agree; 16% disagree. Again, the number was more consistent with African and Middle Eastern views than those in Asia, North America, or Europe.
  • On the other hand, just 7% of South Koreans want to “restrict the entry of people into our country,” the lowest result of any country.
  • 75% of Koreans, the second-highest number (over Turkey at 76%) believed that the nation’s success “is determined by forces outside our control.”

November 2004, Frontier Times / National Policy Research Center.

In the event of war between the U.S. and North Korea, 20% of South Koreans say their country should take the North’s side; another 30% were undecided. Significant differences by both age and region (in Kwangju, as many people would side with the North as with the U.S.).

  • Greatest threat to South Korea’s security: 37.1%, Japan; 28.6%, North Korea; 18.5%, United States, 11.9%, China.
  • By contrast, the company’s poll in January 2004 found that 39 percent of the respondents said the United States was the most threatening country to Korea and 33% named North Korea. At that time, only 7.6 percent of those surveyed counted Japan as most threatening. Among respondents in their 20s, 58% said the U.S. was the greatest threat; only 20% said North Korea was (for further contrast, a 1993 Gallup Korea survey found the numbers to be North Korea, 44%; Japan, 15%; China, 4%; and the United States, 1%.
  • “Of the respondents who said the United States is threatening, 29.2 percent were in their 20s and 26.4 percent were in their 30s. Only 13. 7 percent in their 40s and 8.1 percent in their 50s said the country threatens Korea. ”
  • [S]lightly more than half . . . said inter-Korean economic cooperation and South Korean aid to North Korea should continue, regardless of Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons.
  • Those in favor of this were predominantly governing Uri Party supporters in their 30s and 40s; those against were largely opposition Grand National supporters, aged 50 or over.

April 2005–Frontier Times and 21st Century Research

Telephone poll of over 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1%.

  • Greatest threat to South Korea’s security: first, the United States (29.5%); second, Japan (29.2%); third, North Korea (18.4%).
  • 44.4% of South Koreans believe North Korea’s nukes are good for Korea.
  • 45.7% of people in 20s and 50.1% of students believe the U.S. is the number one threat to Korea.

May 2005, Munhwa Ilbo / KSOI (ht: The Marmot)

  • If the U.S. unilaterally attacks North Korea, whose side should the South Korean government take? North Korea, 47.6%; the United States, 31.2%. By a narrow margin, even supporters of South Korea’s “conservative” Grand National Party believed that the South should side with the North against the United States.

August 2005, Gallup Korea / Chosun Ilbo

Survey of 833 individuals born between 1980 and 1989.

  • In a war between the United States and North Korea, whose side would you take? North Korea, 65.9%; United States, 21.8%; undecided, 12.3%.
  • Ironically, when the same respondents were asked where they’d prefer live if they lived abroad, 17.9% named Australia, 16.8% the U.S., and 15.3% Japan. “Fourteen nations including equally uninviting Iraq and Iran did better than North Korea by attracting one respondent each.”
  • The conservative Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest-circulation daily, tried to put a bright face on it, calling the results an indicator of “pragmatic patriotism.”

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OFK Interview with Nicholas Eberstadt

My deepest thanks to Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute for agreeing to a telephone interview. Eberstadt is one of Washington’s most highly regarded Korea experts. The interview ended up lasting a full hour. Nothing has been edited out, although I missed a word here and there because I’m not a stenographer. Still, this is pretty close to a verbatim transcript; Nick Eberstadt is one of those rare individuals who speaks in complete sentences.

All comments in brackets and hyperlinks are my own. My questions focused on what may well be the terminal phase of the six-party talks, clarifying questions Eberstadt raised in his latest piece for The American Enterprise, and discussing the question that everyone’s assiduously avoided thus far: just exactly what are we to do if the talks demonstrably fail?

I let Mr. Eberstadt see some of the questions in advance (those not truncated by yahoo e-mail), and allowed him to see the completed transcript before publication. This was to afford him the chance to clarify any misquotes or errors, or to add clarifications. On the other hand, I did my best to ask tough questions. Questions are in normal typeface. Mr. Eberstadt’s responses are in blue italics.

_______________

[First question] I have a wager going that North Korea will not even show up for the talks scheduled for August 29th, give or take a day. Care to join the pool? There’s a $20 house minimum.

I always lose at bets, so I’ll decline. But the DPRK has a good reason to return if it chooses to do so. Its posture has already opened, still further, the wound in the ROK-US alliance. The ROK Foreign Minister declared last week that his government in principle had no problem with a peaceful nuclear program in North Korea. I suppose that program would proceed in tandem with [North Korea’s] peaceful chemical weapons program, and its peaceful biological weapons program. If I were a North Korean diplomat, I’d come back to the table just to see the U.S. and ROK diplomats eat each other alive over that difference. I can’t predict if the North Koreans will return, but if they do, they will have fun watching us squirm.

Say I lose. We all know you have a stock ticker in your office that tells you what the Administration is thinking. So just how patient is this Administration willing to be?

[Laughs] I would have guessed that the Administration’s patience would have limits. Here’s my reasoning: a lot of the Administration’s patience since January, during the second Bush term, has revolved around trying to get the [American] North Korea diplomatic team all in place. The obvious missing piece through most of 2005 was the appointment of a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. That appointment would be indispensable for any recommendation of sanctions to the U.N. Security Council. With the recess appointment of John Bolton, the entire U.S. roster is now in place.

With latest talks, I would have thought that the Administration is not only probing the North Koreans’ intentions, but laying the groundwork for alternatives–demonstrating that further talks would be fruitless, and pulling together allies and interlocutors for a further pressure campaign. But [implicitly denying the presence of the stock ticker] that would just be my guess.

You’ve suggested that we should declare the talks a failure now. But given the importance of making this someone else’s fault in the eyes of as many people as possible, what’s the harm in waiting another week or two, since this has become a charade anyway?

I’m not privy to the U.S. government’s playbook on dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis. If the U.S. government’s playbook runs along lines you’ve just laid out, that seems entirely unobjectionable. The important point is that U.S. diplomats and policy-makers be under no illusions that failure can be turned to triumph by describing black as white such a sufficient number of times.

In your June piece for The American Enterprise, you urged the administration to define failure for the talks and be prepared to declare failure when we get there. So this is going to be a multi-parter. . . . First, help us with your definition of failure.

I would define failure as a refusal by the DPRK government to agree to the objective of complete denuclearization, and/or refusal to engage in forthcoming and cooperative disclosure on the entire past history of the DPRK nuclear effort.

Ambassador Chris Hill has talked about North Korea having to make a fundamental decision about giving up its nuclear programs. Does that, or anything else, suggest that the Administration finally gets it?

I don’t know Ambassador Hill well, I’ve only met him. People talk highly of his skills and acumen. That’s promising language. It’s necessary but not sufficient to show that people in U.S. government get the problem, but it doesn’t reveal his innermost thoughts about the U.S. government’s game plan.

How does Chung Dong-Young’s latest affect the odds of any success at the talks?

It does affect the success. It affects the North Korean chance for success. He’s helped those out quite considerably. Almost every time he’s opened his mouth, he’s strengthened the North Korean position [pauses to think]. I can’t think of one exception off-hand.

How has the State Department’s outlook changed since Secretary Rice replaced Secretary Powell?

This is a little bit of Kremlinology–looking at an organization from afar. My distant observer’s perception is that an untrusted team has been replaced by a trusted team, from the White House perspective. The Powell team was kept on a two-foot leash, mainly because of a lack of White House confidence, I would guess. We now have a transmission belt of Bush loyalists on North Korea policy. Secretary Rice, John Bolton, Robert Zoellick, and Ambassador Hill are all people who enjoy the trust of the White House, and the President personally. I surmise that a second-term Bush Administration diplomatic team will have more lee-way on making initiatives in [of?] consequence.

Did The Korea Times ever clarify its misstatements about your position on the alliance to your satisfaction?

[Laughs] Oh, you read that, did you? Well, they published my letter, which was very gracious, and also I got a very gracious and sincere apology from the author. It was an honest mistake. I think that the author simply confused my position with that of one of the other authors from the June TAE issue.

You oppose a complete USFK withdrawal, but then, just what level of alliance do you think North Korea serves long-term US interests? What mix, for example, of air, naval, and ground assets should we be aiming for?

That’s a very important, deep, and complicated question. I am in principle in favor of a long-term U.S.-ROK alliance, because I’m convinced it can serve interests of both nations and those of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia. That said, both sides must be in favor of the underlying principles and objectives of the alliance. It is possible to imagine circumstances under which the alliance would no longer be viable. I think Northeast Asia would be a much more dangerous place if we get to that juncture. I hope we don’t get there, but the momentum right now is not favorable.

That said, I’m not a military specialist, and I should emphasize that I’m a newspaper reader when it comes to military operations and requirements. My general impression is that we have an immediate task of deterring a North Korea threat. Over the long term, we have the challenge of maintaining peace in Northeast Asia. At the very least, that will require U.S. air and naval power in the region.

Chris Nelson [author of the now-infamous Nelson Report] said that in addition to being funny and well-liked, you’re “rigid, didactic, and unwilling to admit that [your] frequent predictions about very specific actions or motives of Kim Jong-il turn out to be totally wrong.” Several questions based on this. First, has anyone spotted Chris Nelson recently? Second, what does didactic mean? Care to touch anything else in there?

[A slightly longer-than-expected pause before the awkward laughter I was anticipating] I don’t believe I’ve ever actually met Chris Nelson. Didactic, by the way, means pedantic [OFK: well, that was no help, but click here and here.] and schoolmasterish [ohhhhh]. As for the rest of what he says, it’s certainly true that North Korea has not collapsed. I would have been one of the people laying odds on North Korea not being here today. There are reasons North Korea has managed to survive that I could not have even fantasized about ten years ago, such as the international rescue program that happened under Sunshine. I’d also note that I was one of the few people in the U.S. who argued that Roh Moo Hyun was electable, and that Sunshine was driving at the heart of the U.S.-ROK alliance. I haven’t heard many people disputing those arguments lately.

I want to move to the “what next” question, in the event the six-nation talks fail. In your latest piece, you said, “Washington should impose real-time penalties on Pyongyang. Can you elaborate on what you mean here?

What we have to begin to do is penalize North Korea economically. The United States can increase North Korea’s economic penalties more or less unilaterially thru the Proliferation Security Initiative–working, of course, with those nations that have joined the PSI, and leading that coalition. We should be doing that anyhow. That’s just police work.

We should also insist on a more humanitarian food aid program, which is to say a more intrusive and accountable food program, versus the one the World Food Program and others are kicking in for now. The current program feeds the North Korea government better than it feeds North Korea people. We should change that immediately.

One other issue here is the need to confer more effectively with our European allies on international aid flows to the DPRK. Europe professes great concern for human rights in principle. North Korea is the worst human rights disaster on earth.

The most important and difficult areas in aid flow are with South Korea and China. The U.S. needs to be much more effective in making its case to the South Korean public that aiding the North Korean state means endangering the South Korean state. The South Korean government is almost unconditionally supporting North Korea through its aid programs. That unconditional aid does not reflect the actual state of public opinion in South Korea; in fact, the South Korean public is deeply divided on the question of unconditional aid to the North. Making the case against unconditional aid to the North in various venues would be very helpful changing South Korean policies in this regard.

China is another source of unconditional aid to the North. As long as Seoul is completely off the reservation on supporting North Korea through aid, China has much less reason to make hard choices on North Korea. The road to a stricter Chinese aid policy leads through Seoul. If we can convince South Korea to have a more rational, less emotional and ideological policy about aid to North Korea, we are more likely to succeed with China as well.

Did you see the story in this morning’s Chosun Ilbo on the survey of Korean youth?

Yes.

What’s your reaction to that?

Depending on how you phrase a question, you can get really imbalanced responses in one direction or other, particularly in South Korean polls. I think this is one of those cases, where the results have been exaggerated by the way the question was posed. That said, the point that many people in South Korea now look at the U.S. as a security problem and North Korea as a partner cannot be denied, and that’s a big problem for the alliance.

In your last piece in TAE, you said that “[t]he country [North Korea] is highly vulnerable to economic pressure . . . . Others would argue that a country as poor as North Korea is actually less vulnerable to economic pressure.

I think that is empirically incorrect. I think it was last fall, I published an article called “The Persistence of North Korea. What I tried to show in that study is that North Korea’s unidentified foreign sources of funding had increased very substantially since 1998, since the Sunshine era commenced. In the mid-1990s, the DPRK was in famine, the regime was describing its situation as an “arduous march. That period ended precisely when this upswing in foreign funding commenced. North Korean economy is a bizarre, distorted, jack-assed contraption. I agree that if you study history, coercive economic diplomacy seldom achieves its objectives. But North Korea is so economically vulnerable that North Korea is an unusually promising candidate for economic pressure.

Why would China help us in the U.N.?

We can’t know until we try, but my hunch is that Chinese leadership, in the final analysis, will have to be rational about its own interests in Northeast Asia, and an aggressive nuclear North Korea is even more subversive of Beijing’s interests than a pressure campaign against the DPRK that may involve Chinese risks.

The reason I say this is that China’s exposure to North Korean brinksmanship entails the possibility of very real costs in China’s strategic situation and China’s domestic stability. If the DPRK emerges as an aggressive nuclear power, the nuclear disposition of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan cannot be presumed to remain constant. Our ambassador in Japan has made this point. An aggressive nuclear North Korea will also invite responses in missile defense in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. None of these results is in china’s interest.

I also mention that there’s a domestic concern for China. An aggressive nuclear North Korea could cause a business crisis in Northeast Asia–I don’t think it’s difficult to imagine how–leading to a downturn in trade, investment, and economic growth in region. It would only take a matter of months for this to lead to higher urban unemployment rates in china. If I read the newspapers correctly, China’s leaders are very concerned about stability these days. Rising unemployment is not the way to improve stability and reduce social tensions. The U.S. government can encourage the Chinese leadership to think about its own interests in North Korea more clearly. If we encourage the Chinese leadership to think about its own interests in North Korea more clearly, we will find that our interests overlap is larger than we’ve thought to date.

Do you think the United States is seriously considering a blockade?

I think there are circumstances under which US would have to consider a blockade. We’re not there yet, and I hope we never get there. The idea that military action is inconceivable is wrong. It would be an awful set of circumstances that would bring us to that point, but we would have to consider it.

Balbina Hwang has estimated that Kim Jong Il controls up to $5 billion in overseas deposits. Has there been talk of freezing those assets? [Slight correction here: it would be more accurate to say that Ms. Hwang quoted estimates North Korea’s overseas deposits “as high as” $5 billion in this August 2003 piece. Ms. Hwang does not actually claim this estimate as her own own–my apologies.].

I don’t know if that estimate is correct or not. Of course, it would be a smart and a good thing to search for and identify overseas DPRK assets. I wonder, though, whether DPRK assets are as large as some analysts have guessed. North Korea was in such a delicate economic situation in mid-90s that it would seem puzzling for the regime not to have used some of those “rainy-day” funds to relieve possible tensions that arose from that situation.

In The End of North Korea, [published in 2000] you made the point that North Korean trade with the U.S. would not likely expand much, for reasons that are internal to North Korean policy. The mirror image of this is that re-imposing sanctions would not do much, either. And of course, but for the lack of MFN trade status and sanctions on dual-use components, we really don’t have many sanctions on North Korea today.

That’s right, but the real impact of our economic policy is often overlooked. It’s not the trade sanctions per se. The real financial bite from the U.S. sanctions is that the U.S. is obligated vote against North Korean membership in the International Monetary fund, which prevents it from getting access to international loans or grants. But North Korea is perfectly capable of failing as international exporter without our help.

Recently, you’ve been much more outspoken about humanitarian issues in relation to North Korea. I want to address the intersection of the humanitarian and economic issues, specifically the famine. Some NGOs have discussed the link between hunger and songbun, which is a measure of political classification and oppression. Some have raised comparisons to Stalin’s selective mass starvation in the Ukraine in the 1930s–I’ve raised them myself. Do you think that there’s evidence to support such a comparison?

Well, the evidence comes from the escapees, who’ve described the starvation in North Korea in the 1990s.

Do you think that this starvation was deliberate, at least to some extent?

There’s very little arguing that the regime made decisions about who should get food, and who should not. The suspect or disfavored strata were certainly not preferentially treated in allocation of food through the Public Distribution System. Since death toll and suffering from the famine in some measure seems regionally specific, it’s clear that the regime made some choices. I don’t think this was so much a pan opticon decree that some elements should be sentenced to death. I suspect it was more like the process that the Nazis called selektion [selecting who would live and who wouldn’t]. Another way to put it is that being in a disfavored status near Pyongyang, or being in a favored status, was better than being in a disfavored status near the Russian border.

Assume China and South Korea block our every efforts to relieve the human rights and famine problems in the North. What could America do to make a tangible difference in either situation?

As things stand now, both South Korea and China are disposed to ignore the humanitarian disaster in North Korea. That’s why need to have a diplomatic strategy for dealing with human rights. The [Chinese and South Korean policies] are not fixed or immutable positions.

The road to changing South Korea’s regrettable policy for dealing with human rights leads through Europe. The South Korean government, so heavily composed of former human rights activists, can be shamed into a more humane policy toward refugees from the DPRK. The way to shame the South Korean government is to form an international coalition to persuade people worldwide that the current situation cannot be tolerated. To do so will involve a lot of spadework with governments and NGOs in Europe, especially among the new, formerly communist, democracies. I don’t think South Korea wants to try to make the case that North Korea should be an exception to worldwide human rights principles.

Obviously, we have plenty of work to do in developing that coalition, but it’s there for the building. If such a coalition were developed, there are so many promising reasons to expect that groups and people in South Korea will support a more humanitarian policy toward North Korea refugees, and that we can expect a change from the see-no-evil Sunshine approach toward North Korea.

Just as the road to South Korea leads through Europe, the road to China leads through South Korea. Without the cover that South Korea’s current position provides, china will be exposed to more important choices. That importance rises as we approach 2008. China is not isolated from the calculus of costs and benefits [here, Eberstadt stopped for a pregnant consideration of his choice of words]. China wants the Beijing Olympics to be success, not an embarrassing failure.

You’re an advocate of assisting North Korean refugees, but some of those who opposed the North Korean Human Rights Act or confrontation with North Korea over human rights have accused the United States of hypocrisy in offering asylum to North Korean refugees. After all, not one North Korean refugee has been given asylum in the USA, and the NKHRA did not include a provision for Temporary Protected Status. Are we all a bunch of hypocrites for offering something we appear to have been unprepared to actually give?

The confusion about accepting North Korea refugees into the United States is the tiniest corner of our INS mess. I don’t think that anyone who is familiar with it thinks our INS works like a normal and healthy operation. There is an even bigger problem than what we see through this small aperture: a badly broken INS.

But those few North Koreans who arrived in the United States had already taken first refuge elsewhere, meaning that they were ineligible for asylum anyway.

The U.S. gesture of offering asylum to North Korean refugees follows a tradition of 200 years of acting on the principles later recorded in the language on the placard on the Statue of Liberty. We have to be very clear that the South Korean Constitution recognizes North Koreans as South Korean citizens if they so much as raise hands and say, “Take us home. Given how much emphasis today’s South Korea places on constitutional rights and the rule of law, we should encourage the government to take another look at Article III.

I noticed that North Korea’s negotiating posture seemed to become temporarily more flexible after Kang Chol-Hwan’s visit. That flexibility didn’t last, of course, but do you think North Korea takes the threat of US support for a political alternative to the regime seriously?

The North Korea government will take the threat of U.S. support for an alternative DPRK more seriously in proportion to the extent that the U.S. government itself takes that proposition seriously. The DPRK leadership is purportedly isolated and removed from events, but they don’t do a bad job of reading the papers. They may even surf the Internet from time to time. North Korea is capable of doing those calculations on its own.

Now for a wacky question. There is exactly one way I can think of to seriously challenge the North Korean regime’s hold on power without Chinese or South Korean cooperation: to support an anti-government resistance movement inside North Korea, supplying it clandestinely, perhaps from off the coast. In your wildest dreams, can you envision the United States providing clandestine support for an anti-Kim Jong-Il resistance movement?

It certainly shouldn’t be ruled out. My impression as a newspaper reader is that the history of covert operations in North Korea over the last half century is not one of ringing successes. That said, all options should remain on the table when dealing with a government opposed to basic principles of international peace and cooperation.

Mr. Eberstadt, thank you for being so considerate of your time.

Thank you. I enjoy your Web site very much. [End of interview]

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One final point I’d add, in addition to thanking Mr. Eberstadt for kind plug for my site–he’s such a mensch that he never even mentioned his new book. So I just did.

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OFK Interview with Nicholas Eberstadt

My deepest thanks to Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute for agreeing to a telephone interview. Eberstadt is one of Washington’s most highly regarded Korea experts. The interview ended up lasting a full hour. Nothing has been edited out, although I missed a word here and there because I’m not a stenographer. Still, this is pretty close to a verbatim transcript; Nick Eberstadt is one of those rare individuals who speaks in complete sentences.

All comments in brackets and hyperlinks are my own. My questions focused on what may well be the terminal phase of the six-party talks, clarifying questions Eberstadt raised in his latest piece for The American Enterprise, and discussing the question that everyone’s assiduously avoided thus far: just exactly what are we to do if the talks demonstrably fail?

I let Mr. Eberstadt see some of the questions in advance (those not truncated by yahoo e-mail), and allowed him to see the completed transcript before publication. This was to afford him the chance to clarify any misquotes or errors, or to add clarifications. On the other hand, I did my best to ask tough questions. Questions are in normal typeface. Mr. Eberstadt’s responses are in blue italics.

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[First question] I have a wager going that North Korea will not even show up for the talks scheduled for August 29th, give or take a day. Care to join the pool? There’s a $20 house minimum.

I always lose at bets, so I’ll decline. But the DPRK has a good reason to return if it chooses to do so. Its posture has already opened, still further, the wound in the ROK-US alliance. The ROK Foreign Minister declared last week that his government in principle had no problem with a peaceful nuclear program in North Korea. I suppose that program would proceed in tandem with [North Korea’s] peaceful chemical weapons program, and its peaceful biological weapons program. If I were a North Korean diplomat, I’d come back to the table just to see the U.S. and ROK diplomats eat each other alive over that difference. I can’t predict if the North Koreans will return, but if they do, they will have fun watching us squirm.

Say I lose. We all know you have a stock ticker in your office that tells you what the Administration is thinking. So just how patient is this Administration willing to be?

[Laughs] I would have guessed that the Administration’s patience would have limits. Here’s my reasoning: a lot of the Administration’s patience since January, during the second Bush term, has revolved around trying to get the [American] North Korea diplomatic team all in place. The obvious missing piece through most of 2005 was the appointment of a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. That appointment would be indispensable for any recommendation of sanctions to the U.N. Security Council. With the recess appointment of John Bolton, the entire U.S. roster is now in place.

With latest talks, I would have thought that the Administration is not only probing the North Koreans’ intentions, but laying the groundwork for alternatives–demonstrating that further talks would be fruitless, and pulling together allies and interlocutors for a further pressure campaign. But [implicitly denying the presence of the stock ticker] that would just be my guess.

You’ve suggested that we should declare the talks a failure now. But given the importance of making this someone else’s fault in the eyes of as many people as possible, what’s the harm in waiting another week or two, since this has become a charade anyway?

I’m not privy to the U.S. government’s playbook on dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis. If the U.S. government’s playbook runs along lines you’ve just laid out, that seems entirely unobjectionable. The important point is that U.S. diplomats and policy-makers be under no illusions that failure can be turned to triumph by describing black as white such a sufficient number of times.

In your June piece for The American Enterprise, you urged the administration to define failure for the talks and be prepared to declare failure when we get there. So this is going to be a multi-parter. . . . First, help us with your definition of failure.

I would define failure as a refusal by the DPRK government to agree to the objective of complete denuclearization, and/or refusal to engage in forthcoming and cooperative disclosure on the entire past history of the DPRK nuclear effort.

Ambassador Chris Hill has talked about North Korea having to make a fundamental decision about giving up its nuclear programs. Does that, or anything else, suggest that the Administration finally gets it?

I don’t know Ambassador Hill well, I’ve only met him. People talk highly of his skills and acumen. That’s promising language. It’s necessary but not sufficient to show that people in U.S. government get the problem, but it doesn’t reveal his innermost thoughts about the U.S. government’s game plan.

How does Chung Dong-Young’s latest affect the odds of any success at the talks?

It does affect the success. It affects the North Korean chance for success. He’s helped those out quite considerably. Almost every time he’s opened his mouth, he’s strengthened the North Korean position [pauses to think]. I can’t think of one exception off-hand.

How has the State Department’s outlook changed since Secretary Rice replaced Secretary Powell?

This is a little bit of Kremlinology–looking at an organization from afar. My distant observer’s perception is that an untrusted team has been replaced by a trusted team, from the White House perspective. The Powell team was kept on a two-foot leash, mainly because of a lack of White House confidence, I would guess. We now have a transmission belt of Bush loyalists on North Korea policy. Secretary Rice, John Bolton, Robert Zoellick, and Ambassador Hill are all people who enjoy the trust of the White House, and the President personally. I surmise that a second-term Bush Administration diplomatic team will have more lee-way on making initiatives in [of?] consequence.

Did The Korea Times ever clarify its misstatements about your position on the alliance to your satisfaction?

[Laughs] Oh, you read that, did you? Well, they published my letter, which was very gracious, and also I got a very gracious and sincere apology from the author. It was an honest mistake. I think that the author simply confused my position with that of one of the other authors from the June TAE issue.

You oppose a complete USFK withdrawal, but then, just what level of alliance do you think North Korea serves long-term US interests? What mix, for example, of air, naval, and ground assets should we be aiming for?

That’s a very important, deep, and complicated question. I am in principle in favor of a long-term U.S.-ROK alliance, because I’m convinced it can serve interests of both nations and those of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia. That said, both sides must be in favor of the underlying principles and objectives of the alliance. It is possible to imagine circumstances under which the alliance would no longer be viable. I think Northeast Asia would be a much more dangerous place if we get to that juncture. I hope we don’t get there, but the momentum right now is not favorable.

That said, I’m not a military specialist, and I should emphasize that I’m a newspaper reader when it comes to military operations and requirements. My general impression is that we have an immediate task of deterring a North Korea threat. Over the long term, we have the challenge of maintaining peace in Northeast Asia. At the very least, that will require U.S. air and naval power in the region.

Chris Nelson [author of the now-infamous Nelson Report] said that in addition to being funny and well-liked, you’re “rigid, didactic, and unwilling to admit that [your] frequent predictions about very specific actions or motives of Kim Jong-il turn out to be totally wrong.” Several questions based on this. First, has anyone spotted Chris Nelson recently? Second, what does didactic mean? Care to touch anything else in there?

[A slightly longer-than-expected pause before the awkward laughter I was anticipating] I don’t believe I’ve ever actually met Chris Nelson. Didactic, by the way, means pedantic [OFK: well, that was no help, but click here and here.] and schoolmasterish [ohhhhh]. As for the rest of what he says, it’s certainly true that North Korea has not collapsed. I would have been one of the people laying odds on North Korea not being here today. There are reasons North Korea has managed to survive that I could not have even fantasized about ten years ago, such as the international rescue program that happened under Sunshine. I’d also note that I was one of the few people in the U.S. who argued that Roh Moo Hyun was electable, and that Sunshine was driving at the heart of the U.S.-ROK alliance. I haven’t heard many people disputing those arguments lately.

I want to move to the “what next” question, in the event the six-nation talks fail. In your latest piece, you said, “Washington should impose real-time penalties on Pyongyang. Can you elaborate on what you mean here?

What we have to begin to do is penalize North Korea economically. The United States can increase North Korea’s economic penalties more or less unilaterially thru the Proliferation Security Initiative–working, of course, with those nations that have joined the PSI, and leading that coalition. We should be doing that anyhow. That’s just police work.

We should also insist on a more humanitarian food aid program, which is to say a more intrusive and accountable food program, versus the one the World Food Program and others are kicking in for now. The current program feeds the North Korea government better than it feeds North Korea people. We should change that immediately.

One other issue here is the need to confer more effectively with our European allies on international aid flows to the DPRK. Europe professes great concern for human rights in principle. North Korea is the worst human rights disaster on earth.

The most important and difficult areas in aid flow are with South Korea and China. The U.S. needs to be much more effective in making its case to the South Korean public that aiding the North Korean state means endangering the South Korean state. The South Korean government is almost unconditionally supporting North Korea through its aid programs. That unconditional aid does not reflect the actual state of public opinion in South Korea; in fact, the South Korean public is deeply divided on the question of unconditional aid to the North. Making the case against unconditional aid to the North in various venues would be very helpful changing South Korean policies in this regard.

China is another source of unconditional aid to the North. As long as Seoul is completely off the reservation on supporting North Korea through aid, China has much less reason to make hard choices on North Korea. The road to a stricter Chinese aid policy leads through Seoul. If we can convince South Korea to have a more rational, less emotional and ideological policy about aid to North Korea, we are more likely to succeed with China as well.

Did you see the story in this morning’s Chosun Ilbo on the survey of Korean youth?

Yes.

What’s your reaction to that?

Depending on how you phrase a question, you can get really imbalanced responses in one direction or other, particularly in South Korean polls. I think this is one of those cases, where the results have been exaggerated by the way the question was posed. That said, the point that many people in South Korea now look at the U.S. as a security problem and North Korea as a partner cannot be denied, and that’s a big problem for the alliance.

In your last piece in TAE, you said that “[t]he country [North Korea] is highly vulnerable to economic pressure . . . . Others would argue that a country as poor as North Korea is actually less vulnerable to economic pressure.

I think that is empirically incorrect. I think it was last fall, I published an article called “The Persistence of North Korea. What I tried to show in that study is that North Korea’s unidentified foreign sources of funding had increased very substantially since 1998, since the Sunshine era commenced. In the mid-1990s, the DPRK was in famine, the regime was describing its situation as an “arduous march. That period ended precisely when this upswing in foreign funding commenced. North Korean economy is a bizarre, distorted, jack-assed contraption. I agree that if you study history, coercive economic diplomacy seldom achieves its objectives. But North Korea is so economically vulnerable that North Korea is an unusually promising candidate for economic pressure.

Why would China help us in the U.N.?

We can’t know until we try, but my hunch is that Chinese leadership, in the final analysis, will have to be rational about its own interests in Northeast Asia, and an aggressive nuclear North Korea is even more subversive of Beijing’s interests than a pressure campaign against the DPRK that may involve Chinese risks.

The reason I say this is that China’s exposure to North Korean brinksmanship entails the possibility of very real costs in China’s strategic situation and China’s domestic stability. If the DPRK emerges as an aggressive nuclear power, the nuclear disposition of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan cannot be presumed to remain constant. Our ambassador in Japan has made this point. An aggressive nuclear North Korea will also invite responses in missile defense in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. None of these results is in china’s interest.

I also mention that there’s a domestic concern for China. An aggressive nuclear North Korea could cause a business crisis in Northeast Asia–I don’t think it’s difficult to imagine how–leading to a downturn in trade, investment, and economic growth in region. It would only take a matter of months for this to lead to higher urban unemployment rates in china. If I read the newspapers correctly, China’s leaders are very concerned about stability these days. Rising unemployment is not the way to improve stability and reduce social tensions. The U.S. government can encourage the Chinese leadership to think about its own interests in North Korea more clearly. If we encourage the Chinese leadership to think about its own interests in North Korea more clearly, we will find that our interests overlap is larger than we’ve thought to date.

Do you think the United States is seriously considering a blockade?

I think there are circumstances under which US would have to consider a blockade. We’re not there yet, and I hope we never get there. The idea that military action is inconceivable is wrong. It would be an awful set of circumstances that would bring us to that point, but we would have to consider it.

Balbina Hwang has estimated that Kim Jong Il controls up to $5 billion in overseas deposits. Has there been talk of freezing those assets? [Slight correction here: it would be more accurate to say that Ms. Hwang quoted estimates North Korea’s overseas deposits “as high as” $5 billion in this August 2003 piece. Ms. Hwang does not actually claim this estimate as her own own–my apologies.].

I don’t know if that estimate is correct or not. Of course, it would be a smart and a good thing to search for and identify overseas DPRK assets. I wonder, though, whether DPRK assets are as large as some analysts have guessed. North Korea was in such a delicate economic situation in mid-90s that it would seem puzzling for the regime not to have used some of those “rainy-day” funds to relieve possible tensions that arose from that situation.

In The End of North Korea, [published in 2000] you made the point that North Korean trade with the U.S. would not likely expand much, for reasons that are internal to North Korean policy. The mirror image of this is that re-imposing sanctions would not do much, either. And of course, but for the lack of MFN trade status and sanctions on dual-use components, we really don’t have many sanctions on North Korea today.

That’s right, but the real impact of our economic policy is often overlooked. It’s not the trade sanctions per se. The real financial bite from the U.S. sanctions is that the U.S. is obligated vote against North Korean membership in the International Monetary fund, which prevents it from getting access to international loans or grants. But North Korea is perfectly capable of failing as international exporter without our help.

Recently, you’ve been much more outspoken about humanitarian issues in relation to North Korea. I want to address the intersection of the humanitarian and economic issues, specifically the famine. Some NGOs have discussed the link between hunger and songbun, which is a measure of political classification and oppression. Some have raised comparisons to Stalin’s selective mass starvation in the Ukraine in the 1930s–I’ve raised them myself. Do you think that there’s evidence to support such a comparison?

Well, the evidence comes from the escapees, who’ve described the starvation in North Korea in the 1990s.

Do you think that this starvation was deliberate, at least to some extent?

There’s very little arguing that the regime made decisions about who should get food, and who should not. The suspect or disfavored strata were certainly not preferentially treated in allocation of food through the Public Distribution System. Since death toll and suffering from the famine in some measure seems regionally specific, it’s clear that the regime made some choices. I don’t think this was so much a pan opticon decree that some elements should be sentenced to death. I suspect it was more like the process that the Nazis called selektion [selecting who would live and who wouldn’t]. Another way to put it is that being in a disfavored status near Pyongyang, or being in a favored status, was better than being in a disfavored status near the Russian border.

Assume China and South Korea block our every efforts to relieve the human rights and famine problems in the North. What could America do to make a tangible difference in either situation?

As things stand now, both South Korea and China are disposed to ignore the humanitarian disaster in North Korea. That’s why need to have a diplomatic strategy for dealing with human rights. The [Chinese and South Korean policies] are not fixed or immutable positions.

The road to changing South Korea’s regrettable policy for dealing with human rights leads through Europe. The South Korean government, so heavily composed of former human rights activists, can be shamed into a more humane policy toward refugees from the DPRK. The way to shame the South Korean government is to form an international coalition to persuade people worldwide that the current situation cannot be tolerated. To do so will involve a lot of spadework with governments and NGOs in Europe, especially among the new, formerly communist, democracies. I don’t think South Korea wants to try to make the case that North Korea should be an exception to worldwide human rights principles.

Obviously, we have plenty of work to do in developing that coalition, but it’s there for the building. If such a coalition were developed, there are so many promising reasons to expect that groups and people in South Korea will support a more humanitarian policy toward North Korea refugees, and that we can expect a change from the see-no-evil Sunshine approach toward North Korea.

Just as the road to South Korea leads through Europe, the road to China leads through South Korea. Without the cover that South Korea’s current position provides, china will be exposed to more important choices. That importance rises as we approach 2008. China is not isolated from the calculus of costs and benefits [here, Eberstadt stopped for a pregnant consideration of his choice of words]. China wants the Beijing Olympics to be success, not an embarrassing failure.

You’re an advocate of assisting North Korean refugees, but some of those who opposed the North Korean Human Rights Act or confrontation with North Korea over human rights have accused the United States of hypocrisy in offering asylum to North Korean refugees. After all, not one North Korean refugee has been given asylum in the USA, and the NKHRA did not include a provision for Temporary Protected Status. Are we all a bunch of hypocrites for offering something we appear to have been unprepared to actually give?

The confusion about accepting North Korea refugees into the United States is the tiniest corner of our INS mess. I don’t think that anyone who is familiar with it thinks our INS works like a normal and healthy operation. There is an even bigger problem than what we see through this small aperture: a badly broken INS.

But those few North Koreans who arrived in the United States had already taken first refuge elsewhere, meaning that they were ineligible for asylum anyway.

The U.S. gesture of offering asylum to North Korean refugees follows a tradition of 200 years of acting on the principles later recorded in the language on the placard on the Statue of Liberty. We have to be very clear that the South Korean Constitution recognizes North Koreans as South Korean citizens if they so much as raise hands and say, “Take us home. Given how much emphasis today’s South Korea places on constitutional rights and the rule of law, we should encourage the government to take another look at Article III.

I noticed that North Korea’s negotiating posture seemed to become temporarily more flexible after Kang Chol-Hwan’s visit. That flexibility didn’t last, of course, but do you think North Korea takes the threat of US support for a political alternative to the regime seriously?

The North Korea government will take the threat of U.S. support for an alternative DPRK more seriously in proportion to the extent that the U.S. government itself takes that proposition seriously. The DPRK leadership is purportedly isolated and removed from events, but they don’t do a bad job of reading the papers. They may even surf the Internet from time to time. North Korea is capable of doing those calculations on its own.

Now for a wacky question. There is exactly one way I can think of to seriously challenge the North Korean regime’s hold on power without Chinese or South Korean cooperation: to support an anti-government resistance movement inside North Korea, supplying it clandestinely, perhaps from off the coast. In your wildest dreams, can you envision the United States providing clandestine support for an anti-Kim Jong-Il resistance movement?

It certainly shouldn’t be ruled out. My impression as a newspaper reader is that the history of covert operations in North Korea over the last half century is not one of ringing successes. That said, all options should remain on the table when dealing with a government opposed to basic principles of international peace and cooperation.

Mr. Eberstadt, thank you for being so considerate of your time.

Thank you. I enjoy your Web site very much. [End of interview]

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One final point I’d add, in addition to thanking Mr. Eberstadt for kind plug for my site–he’s such a mensch that he never even mentioned his new book. So I just did.

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Statement by Rep. Ed Royce

WASHINGTON, D.C. – – On Monday, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-40) participated in a general meeting of the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for the North Korea Refugees and Human Rights. The event was held in Tokyo and was attended by parliamentarians from the United States, South Korea, Japan and Mongolia. As a co-chairman of the group, Royce issued the following opening statement at the event:

“I would like to thank our Japanese hosts, Representative Shu Watanabe, Representative Yoshihide Suga, Representative Akihisa Nagashima and Senator Kazuya Shimba. I would also like to thank Mr. Woo Yea Hwang for his hard work and dedication in organizing the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights [IPCNKR]. Two years ago, I led a congressional delegation to Seoul, where we participated in the inaugural IPCNKR event, on April 16 of 2003. Today – as we were then – we are joined by Parliamentarians from many countries who share the IPCNKR’s commitment of improving the dismal human rights conditions of the North Korean people. I am particularly proud that later on we will be joined by a distinguished delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives, led by the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert.

“My brief message to you today is that the IPCNKR, and the North Korean human rights agenda in general, has made very significant progress in the last several years. As those of us in this room know, the human rights catastrophe in North Korea – virtually ignored five years ago – is gaining greater and greater attention. For example, it is now U.S. policy to put it on the Six-party talks’ agenda. This attention, I believe, over time, will make a difference for the suffering North Korean people.

“Of course, progress cannot come soon enough. In a society where information is so tightly controlled, as it is under Kim Jong Il, we do not know the full extent of the suffering in North Korea, but we do know that most of the 22 million North Koreans live in nightmarish conditions. We also know that millions have perished from starvation and related diseases, very preventable, while nearly 50 percent of all North Korean children are malnourished to the point that it threatens their physical and mental health. We also know that 200,000 North Koreans are held in detention camps, where they suffer unimaginable abuse. Of course, this dire situation has forced many North Koreans to risk their lives by fleeing into China. If returned to North Korea, they face torture, imprisonment, and even execution. This is the drama so poignantly portrayed by ‘Seoul Train,’ the award-winning documentary that has done so much to catalyze attention on this crisis. [link here –OFK] ‘Seoul Train’ is scheduled for a showing later on today.

“I would like to share with you some of the actions the U.S. Congress has taken regarding North Korean refugees and human rights abuses, and hopefully offer some insight into how we – legislators from around the world – can help.

“I have served on our Committee on International Relations since I entered Congress 12 years ago. Over the last six or so years, our Committee has held many hearings focusing on the abusive human rights conditions in North Korea. We have heard from North Koreans who have escaped this fate, hearing gripping accounts of their suffering, and from NGOs that have tried to address the humanitarian crisis in the North. We have also called on the Clinton and Bush Administrations to come before us and report on their efforts to address this crisis. These hearings have helped to bring attention to the situation, and build momentum for policy changes.

“The Committee’s most recent hearing was in April, when we looked at the implementation of the bipartisan North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. We pressed about when a Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights would be appointed, and brought attention to the weak performance of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Beijing. That organization simply must get energized in recognizing and aiding those North Koreans who reach China.

“Many efforts laid the groundwork for passage of the North Korean Human Right Act. In 2001, I authored a resolution calling on the Chinese government to honor its obligation under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which is part of the Human Rights Act. We passed several other resolutions drawing attention to the North Korean regime’s mistreatment of its citizens, and conducted the oversight hearings, as I mentioned. I should stress that these efforts were supported by both our political parties – Republicans and Democrats. These years of work culminated when President Bush signed the North Korean human rights bill last year.

“We are legislators, and the focus of this conference is on legislative action, but I should say a few words about President Bush. Early on, President Bush was sensitive to the plight of the North Korean people. In 2002, he said this about his North Korea policy to the Washington Post in a very candid interview, ‘Either you believe in freedom, and want to – and worry about the human condition, or you don’t.’ I feel very good that President Bush worries about the human condition in North Korea. Last October, he signed the North Korean Human Rights Act. And of course, in June, President Bush invited to the White House Kang Chol-hwan, who wrote ‘The Aquariums of Pyongyang,’ who was sent to a North Korean prison as a nine-year-old boy.

“The Administration appears days away from appointing a Special Envoy on human rights in North Korea, as required by the North Korean Human Rights Act. Encouraged by the Act, the Administration gave Freedom House funding for what turned out to be a very successful North Korean human rights conference, held in Washington last month. Some in this room attended that, I imagine. Also, the National Endowment for Democracy has been given a grant to help South Korean NGOs monitoring the human rights conditions in North Korea.

“The Act also supports more broadcasting hours by Radio Free Asia. Every time I meet with North Korean refugees and defectors, I am further convinced that it is vitally important to bring news and information to North Korea. It is encouraging to see some similar efforts in South Korea, including FreeNK Radio. Information is power.

“I should add that information about the Act is contained on the U.S. Department of State website. And, I am pleased to learn that the Japanese Diet and the South Korean National Assembly are considering similar legislation. We legislators are doing our part.

“It is regrettable that some are opting for ‘quiet diplomacy.’ The South Korean government this year again skipped a vote on a U.N. Commission on Human Rights resolution condemning Pyongyang’s litany of human rights abuses. Two years ago, during the time of the IPNCKR conference in Seoul, South Korean government officials, in explaining their government’s abstaining from the first such resolution, said ‘North Korea may misjudge our attending the voting.’ Another official added that there was no need to discuss human rights and irritate Pyongyang at this ‘important time.’ I agree it is an important time; it is always an important time – an important time to speak-up about human rights abuses in North Korea.

“It is now U.S. policy to raise human rights concerns at the Six-party talks, making the issue of how North Korea treats its people a central part of any dialogue about normalization of relations. This policy was part of the North Korean Human Right Act. Yes, there are those who say: why focus on, why even mention, human rights abuses. They say that bringing up the North’s human rights record only gets in the way of disarming it of its weapons of mass destruction.

“Do not get me wrong; let’s have a dialogue with North Korea, as we are doing. But, let’s have a dialogue based on a clear understanding of what type of government we are dealing with – ignoring human rights issues gives us a false sense of who we are talking to. I see no evidence that overlooking these abuses will get us any closer to an agreement on nuclear disarmament, or that raising them keeps us any further away. Pyongyang’s screaming about us speaking-up about human rights does not persuade me. Add to that – ignoring this issue, keeping silent, is morally indefensible. I do not think we have a choice. I have been long convinced that a concerted, international focus on the North Korean regime’s human rights violations, in fact, is the best way to bring us closer to peace and stability in this region.

“The IPCNKR has achieved much in a very short time. Motivated by the continued suffering of the North Korean people, we must commit ourselves to even greater efforts. I think we are doing that today, and I look forward to continued work with all of you in the months and years ahead.”

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