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

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

[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.

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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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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]

________________

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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Response to Ralph Sato / NKZone comment

They did not reactivate the reactor until George W Bush unwisely terminated the AF in 2002.

The reactor remained intact and fully able to resume reprocessing whenever N. Korea declared itself sufficiently provoked, which it did when North Korea admitted violating the Agreed Framework (which called for North Korea’s complete denuclearization) and Bush refused to simply tolerate it and keep paying up. Meanwhile, N. Korea was perfecting a massive chemical arsenal by testing it on prisoners, lobbing missiles over Japan, buying more artillery to point at South Korea, and enriching uranium, which it later transferred to the A.Q. Khan network and Libya.

Bush’s decision to terminate the AF and his emotional State of the Union speech naming NK as a member of the “axis of evil” though NK does not have any affiliation to the Moslem Middle East . . .

Exhibit A, North Korean technical assistance to the Iranian nuclear program since the 1990s.

Exhibit B, a report that Iran recently sold Russian-made cruise missiles to North Korea.

Exhibit C, North Korean missiles intercepted on the way to Yemen in 2002.

Exhibit D, a New York Times report that North Korea and Pakistan jointly tested a nuclear weapon in Pakistan in 1998.

Exhibit E, consensus that North Korea was the source of Syria’s SCUD-C missiles and a report that North Korea has traded dual-use equipment with Syria that could be used for biological weapons.

Exhibit F, Saddam’s plan to buy North Korean SCUDs with a range exceeding U.N. limits, stopped only when the invasion was imminent and North Korea opted to keep Saddam’s down payment.

Exhibit G, a complete North Korean missile factory intercepted on the way to Libya.

Exhibit F, uranium hexafluoride made in North Korea, found in Libya. Ad nauseum.

Who’s really being emotional here? Is there any amount of evidence that would persuade you that North Korea is a real proliferation threat?

. . . so angered the NK that they then pulled out of the NPT . . . .

Actually, they originally pulled out of the NPT on March 12, 1993. Does that make this Bill Clinton’s fault?

The question of uranium enrichment processing being done at another hidden site has never been proven with any evidence or convicing argument. The NK official who supposedly bragged about it to James Kelly has denied that he made such a categorical statement.

You don’t consider the statement of a U.S. diplomat relating the N. Korean admission to be “any evidence?” What evidence supports the North Korean version? Why do you consider their story be more credible than Kelly’s, particularly given that we’ve actually found some of the uranium, and presumably acquired knowledge about it by exposing the A.Q. Khan network?

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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.”

Continue Reading

Response to Ralph Sato / NKZone comment

They did not reactivate the reactor until George W Bush unwisely terminated the AF in 2002.

The reactor remained intact and fully able to resume reprocessing whenever N. Korea declared itself sufficiently provoked, which it did when North Korea admitted violating the Agreed Framework (which called for North Korea’s complete denuclearization) and Bush refused to simply tolerate it and keep paying up. Meanwhile, N. Korea was perfecting a massive chemical arsenal by testing it on prisoners, lobbing missiles over Japan, buying more artillery to point at South Korea, and enriching uranium, which it later transferred to the A.Q. Khan network and Libya.

Bush’s decision to terminate the AF and his emotional State of the Union speech naming NK as a member of the “axis of evil” though NK does not have any affiliation to the Moslem Middle East . . .

Exhibit A, North Korean technical assistance to the Iranian nuclear program since the 1990s.

Exhibit B, a report that Iran recently sold Russian-made cruise missiles to North Korea.

Exhibit C, North Korean missiles intercepted on the way to Yemen in 2002.

Exhibit D, a New York Times report that North Korea and Pakistan jointly tested a nuclear weapon in Pakistan in 1998.

Exhibit E, consensus that North Korea was the source of Syria’s SCUD-C missiles and a report that North Korea has traded dual-use equipment with Syria that could be used for biological weapons.

Exhibit F, Saddam’s plan to buy North Korean SCUDs with a range exceeding U.N. limits, stopped only when the invasion was imminent and North Korea opted to keep Saddam’s down payment.

Exhibit G, a complete North Korean missile factory intercepted on the way to Libya.

Exhibit F, uranium hexafluoride made in North Korea, found in Libya. Ad nauseum.

Who’s really being emotional here? Is there any amount of evidence that would persuade you that North Korea is a real proliferation threat?

. . . so angered the NK that they then pulled out of the NPT . . . .

Actually, they originally pulled out of the NPT on March 12, 1993. Does that make this Bill Clinton’s fault?

The question of uranium enrichment processing being done at another hidden site has never been proven with any evidence or convicing argument. The NK official who supposedly bragged about it to James Kelly has denied that he made such a categorical statement.

You don’t consider the statement of a U.S. diplomat relating the N. Korean admission to be “any evidence?” What evidence supports the North Korean version? Why do you consider their story be more credible than Kelly’s, particularly given that we’ve actually found some of the uranium, and presumably acquired knowledge about it by exposing the A.Q. Khan network?

Continue Reading

Won Joon Choe Responds

Dear Joshua,

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write such a provocative response to my op-ed and also apologize for my own rather tardy response. While I had planned to respond earlier, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and they do so with ever greater frequency when you are taking care of a sick mother.

Be that as it may, as should be the case whenever thoughtful men engage in a dialogue, I hope our exchange will force both of us to re-examine and sharpen our own positions. In fact, this response itself is a product of such a meditation. In particular, I may have overstated the numerical strength of the conservative voting bloc in the South Korean electorate during the 2002 presidential election. The data show that, in sharp contrast to the 1997 presidential election and most of the other election years I have examined, the conservatives were in fact outnumbered by “liberals” during the 2002 election. Nonetheless, the data also shows that the main conservative opposition candidate Lee Hoi Chang would still have won the election but for the pro-American Hyundai mogul Chung Mon Jun’s alliance with Roh Moo Hyun, given that the two conservatives seem to have monopolized the moderate voting bloc between them.

Now to your objections, and I will try to respond to them sequentially. You begin by contesting two of the main premises of my op-ed. First, that there is no stable leftist, anti-American electoral majority in South Korea today; and second that the election of Roh was due to his rather politically shrewd but ideologically-discordant alliance with Chung Mong Jun, rather than the emergence of such a leftist electoral majority. Naturally, you urge me to “cite some objective factual support” to buttress these premises. In the same vein, you argue much later that there is a contradiction or “tension” between my assertion that co-opting Chung won Roh the election and my supposed later concession that (your words) “there was real sentiment behind Roh’s victory.

I am not as big a fan of polls as you seem to be a variety of reasons, but they do appear to indicate that my analysis of Roh’s victory is correct. The poll numbers throughout the 2002 election year demonstrates that Roh trailed Lee by huge margins before his pact with Chung, with the exception of a “convention bounce” that Roh received for a few months after the MDP convention in March (see Table 1 in http://www.asiasociety.org/publications/AU2003.pdf ).

Roh and Chung themselves even explained that they joined forces precisely because various polls showed that they had no chance of beating Lee singly. The formula worked like magic. Roh essentially absorbed Chung’s conservative/moderate base without losing his hardcore leftist base. In fact, this was an almost identical repetition of the deal that brought Kim Dae Jung and the ultraconservative Kim Jong Pil together earlier in the previous presidential election (though that was even a stranger marriage, given that Kim Jong Pil had pretty much created and ran Park Chung Hee’s dreaded KCIA that twice attempted to kill Kim Dae Jung, and the two men had harbored intense personal animosities toward one another). At any rate, Roh’s popularity skyrocketed immediately after the announcement of their alliance, leapfrogging that of Lee in the polls and never looking back. Of course, the problem is that the mainstream foreign press–which are largely liberal and anti-Bush–find it more convenient and probably sexier to explain the election result by inventing stories about some momentous “generational shift” or ideological realignment (that naturally disadvantages Bush), rather than through plain old backroom wheeling and dealing among politicians.

Before I am done with the Roh-Chung alliance, let me stress another important aspect about it that seems to have now become lost in the Western press. This alliance could have easily produced Chung as the presidential candidate, rather than Roh. Unlike the earlier coupling of Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong Pil–where the former was clearly the dominant partner from the very beginning–Roh and Chung had actually agreed to decide on a presidential candidate among them purely on the basis of a series of polls to determine who would do better v. Lee in a two-man race. Roh won by a threadbare margin, and South Korea narrowly escaped having a presidential election between two ultra-establishment conservatives. Imagine how different the election debates, esp. in regard to South Korea’s posture toward Pyongyang and Washington, would have been if the latter scenario had actually materialized?

If Roh was not elected on the back of a new leftist electoral majority, he seems to be utterly incapable of creating and nurturing such a majority now. Many of his signature leftist domestic reforms–repealing the National Security Law, establishing a truth commission to punish colonialist era collaborators, moving the capital south to weaken Seoul-based elites, relaxing Seoul University’s stringent admissions standards–have created a major backlash in the electorate. The upshot of all this? Roh has been extremely unpopular throughout his presidency (see http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200506/kt2005063018520211990.htm ). In fact, I believe the approval rating of around 20 percent he registered earlier this year is a historic low for any South Korean president. Further, that seeming unpopularity has translated into his own Uri Party suffering a crushing defeat in the most recent by-election. Needless to say, these are hardly signs that the South Korean electorate has lurched left. If anything, the data may lead one to entertain hopes that the South Korean electorate has become chastened about the limits of South Korea’s leftist agenda.

Now you raised a very fair objection in pointing out that I may be contradicting myself by arguing that (in my own words) Roh “won the presidency by exploiting an ugly wave of anti-Americanism following the accidental death of two teenagers in a collision with a U.S. military vehicle” and at the same time maintaining that reports of anti-Americanism in South Korea is greatly exaggerated. To quote you again, I had “[conceded] that there was real sentiment behind Roh’s victory.

I plead “not guilty” to your charge of contradiction here, and perhaps my analysis of that particular episode of anti-American eruption is emblematic of how I understand anti-Americanism in South Korea. While the protests were nasty and widespread, they were still a manifestation of passing emotions rather than fundamental beliefs. Unlike, say, anti-American protests in the Middle East, they were not motivated by serious policy differences with Washington or an aversion toward American values, but caused by anger at the way the deaths of the two girls were perceived to have been mishandled–an impression that both then president Kim Dae Jung and the ruling party candidate Roh played critical roles in encouraging.

That these sentiments were passing and neither permanent nor deep-seated is demonstrated by looking at the comprehensive poll data that Rand put out in its wide-ranging 2004 study titled “Ambivalent Allies?” The authors of that study examined polls tracking South Korean attitudes toward the U.S. from 1988 to 2003. Throughout that time frame, South Korean views toward the U.S. were generally favorable, and there were only three recorded downturns. December 2002 was–voila!–one of the only three periods where the U.S. was viewed more unfavorably than favorably during those 15 years (chapter 3). The other two occasions? During June 1995 and during February 2002.

Further, that these sudden, transitory upswings in anti-Americanism are driven by emotionalism rather than serious policy or value differences with the U.S. is punctuated by a rather revealing poll taken during one of the three downturn periods, February 2002. When asked to cite the biggest reason for their diminishing regard for the U.S., a whopping 65 percent cited the Apollo Ohno incident! Now this is pretty trivial stuff, an incident where South Koreans believed that one of their speed skaters was wrongly disqualified in that year’s Salt Lake City Winter Olympics on behalf of the American Ohno, who was awarded the Gold Medal (p. 69). Far behind the Ohno incident in importance were President Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech (18.8 percent) and the U.S. war against Afghanistan (8.1 percent). I would think that a genuine anti-Americanism would have emerged from sterner stuff.

Of course, chatter about culture or national character makes many enlightened Westerners squirm, but in the end I must turn to the cultural context to explain much of the above. The fact of the matter is that Koreans are an extremely emotional, volatile people; many have compared them to the Irish. Aidan Foster-Carter says South Koreans are primarily driven by the spleen; the political scientist Seung-Hwan Kim, in a revealing essay about anti-Americanism, points to the dominance of “ki-bun” (“a combitnation of mood, feelings, and emotions) as the motor of South Korean politics (see “Anti-Americanism in Korea, The Washington Quarterly, Winter 2002).

Certainly, no analysis of South Korean anti-Americanism is complete without incorporating this cultural context. The wild, (your term) “mercurial” gyrations you acknowledge in the South Korean public opinion is an outcome of the dominance of this ki-bun. So is the violent character of South Korean public life. In fact, to those who were born and raised in South Korea like myself, the incidences of random violence against American servicemen that you decry are not primarily “[expressions] of anti-Americanism. Rather, they are better interpreted simply as expressions of South Korea’s violent culture.

You also offer a lengthy summary of various polls that have persuaded you that “a clear majority [in South Korea] dislike “˜America.'” I will try to be quick here, but suffice to say I do not read those very data you cite the same way:

“¢ There is the matter of the reliability of these polls–which you too pronounce “dubious. Two polls you cite that took place in the same year and same month actually show different results. For instance, in the April 2005 Joongang Ilbo poll that asked to name the country that posed the greatest threat to South Korea, the U.S. is far behind both Japan and North Korea. But in the Frontier Times poll that took place at the same time, the U.S. leads all countries for that dubious distinction. It would be interesting to hear what could possibly cause such a discrepancy. For myself, I think your data tells me more about the inherent difficult of attempting to capture South Korea’s wildly volatile public opinion through static polls than anything else.

“¢ Second, I see no persuasive poll data that shows a “clear majority dislike “˜America.'” The only possible candidate here is the Pew Global Attitudes Project poll data that indicated that a minority of 46 percent held a “favorable” view of the U.S. But the question is how many held “unfavorable” view? Besides, the Rand study I cited earlier show that the “favorable” view rebounded to 50 percent by September 2003, four months after the Pew poll (p. 46). Again, the problem is that a historical context is lacking with these data, even if some of them do confirm your point.

“¢ Third, I see a lot of data you cited that really does not have much to do at all with anti-Americanism.

For example, again you make a great deal of June 2003 Pew poll data that purportedly show that–compared to other Asian nations surveyed–South Koreans put less emphasis on certain fundamental democratic or liberal values such as competitive elections, free press, fair judiciary, religious freedom, and free speech.

To begin with, if I were nitpicking, I could argue that the 48 percent South Koreans who thought free press was very important was a number higher than all other Asian countries surveyed except Bangladesh, not “among the lowest survey results in Asia” that you claim.

Next, in a more serious vein, I am not sure if the data says what you think it says on the surface. I assume you are trying to say that South Korea has a less democratic or liberal culture or institutions than other Asian countries surveyed. While I am a fan of cultural explanations and wholeheartedly agree that South Korean politics can be better understood through a Confucian or authoritarian lens (see an Asia Times essay I published last year titled “South Korea’s Retrograde Politics” http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/FI04Dg01.html ), it would take a lot more to persuade me that South Korea is less democratic or liberal than some of these Asian countries surveyed.

Consider, say, the question of religious freedom. Could it be that South Koreans deem it less important simply because religious conflict was one of the few conflicts that contemporary South Korea has been thankfully free of for most part? In contrast, in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan (which is for some reason considered part of the Middle East by the Pew Center)–all of which have been wracked by religious conflict in recent times–religious freedom is judged to be far more important. Another outlandish data, which to me clinches it (and you omit among the same group of questions about values), is the data that says South Koreans deem economic prosperity the least important among Asian nations surveyed! Pardon? Again, maybe the data simply shows South Koreans take prosperity for granted since that they are already prosperous?

Further, I don’t see how all this relates to anti-Americanism even if you are right that South Korea is less democratic or liberal than other peer Asian nations surveyed. I suppose a convergence of culture can help countries to grow closer together, but that is not always so. Although I don’t know if data are available, I suspect that the number of South Koreans who believed that the aforementioned list of democratic or liberal values were “very important” were lower than they were in December 2002 or May 2003 throughout those decades where South Koreans’ opinion of the U.S. were “favorable” for most part. Certainly, democratization in South Korea has been blamed for anti-Americanism in many quarters.

I have probably already written too much, so perhaps it’s time to wrap up. I obviously read the data that I have presented here and you have countered with differently than you do. I think they say that South Korean public generally has favorable views of the U.S., with a few highly publicized downturns owing to passing emotions that get out of hand for a time. The impression of widespread anti-Americanism is instead due to the fact that the Western media suddenly becomes transfixed by South Korea only during one of these downturns–or worse yet, when a particularly rambunctious minority does something outrageous that persuades the Western media that one of those downturns has arrived. And to the extent that anti-Americanism has in fact gained some “real” ground in recent years, it is due to a comprehensive propaganda effort of Roh’s leftist government–which can be countered by a new conservative government, which seems to be an increasingly greater likelihood in 2007 given Roh and his Uri Party’s immense unpopularity.

On the basis of all these factors, it seems to me rather myopic to give up on South Korea so soon.

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Won Joon Choe Responds

Dear Joshua,

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write such a provocative response to my op-ed and also apologize for my own rather tardy response. While I had planned to respond earlier, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and they do so with ever greater frequency when you are taking care of a sick mother.

Be that as it may, as should be the case whenever thoughtful men engage in a dialogue, I hope our exchange will force both of us to re-examine and sharpen our own positions. In fact, this response itself is a product of such a meditation. In particular, I may have overstated the numerical strength of the conservative voting bloc in the South Korean electorate during the 2002 presidential election. The data show that, in sharp contrast to the 1997 presidential election and most of the other election years I have examined, the conservatives were in fact outnumbered by “liberals” during the 2002 election. Nonetheless, the data also shows that the main conservative opposition candidate Lee Hoi Chang would still have won the election but for the pro-American Hyundai mogul Chung Mon Jun’s alliance with Roh Moo Hyun, given that the two conservatives seem to have monopolized the moderate voting bloc between them.

Now to your objections, and I will try to respond to them sequentially. You begin by contesting two of the main premises of my op-ed. First, that there is no stable leftist, anti-American electoral majority in South Korea today; and second that the election of Roh was due to his rather politically shrewd but ideologically-discordant alliance with Chung Mong Jun, rather than the emergence of such a leftist electoral majority. Naturally, you urge me to “cite some objective factual support” to buttress these premises. In the same vein, you argue much later that there is a contradiction or “tension” between my assertion that co-opting Chung won Roh the election and my supposed later concession that (your words) “there was real sentiment behind Roh’s victory.

I am not as big a fan of polls as you seem to be a variety of reasons, but they do appear to indicate that my analysis of Roh’s victory is correct. The poll numbers throughout the 2002 election year demonstrates that Roh trailed Lee by huge margins before his pact with Chung, with the exception of a “convention bounce” that Roh received for a few months after the MDP convention in March (see Table 1 in http://www.asiasociety.org/publications/AU2003.pdf ).

Roh and Chung themselves even explained that they joined forces precisely because various polls showed that they had no chance of beating Lee singly. The formula worked like magic. Roh essentially absorbed Chung’s conservative/moderate base without losing his hardcore leftist base. In fact, this was an almost identical repetition of the deal that brought Kim Dae Jung and the ultraconservative Kim Jong Pil together earlier in the previous presidential election (though that was even a stranger marriage, given that Kim Jong Pil had pretty much created and ran Park Chung Hee’s dreaded KCIA that twice attempted to kill Kim Dae Jung, and the two men had harbored intense personal animosities toward one another). At any rate, Roh’s popularity skyrocketed immediately after the announcement of their alliance, leapfrogging that of Lee in the polls and never looking back. Of course, the problem is that the mainstream foreign press–which are largely liberal and anti-Bush–find it more convenient and probably sexier to explain the election result by inventing stories about some momentous “generational shift” or ideological realignment (that naturally disadvantages Bush), rather than through plain old backroom wheeling and dealing among politicians.

Before I am done with the Roh-Chung alliance, let me stress another important aspect about it that seems to have now become lost in the Western press. This alliance could have easily produced Chung as the presidential candidate, rather than Roh. Unlike the earlier coupling of Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong Pil–where the former was clearly the dominant partner from the very beginning–Roh and Chung had actually agreed to decide on a presidential candidate among them purely on the basis of a series of polls to determine who would do better v. Lee in a two-man race. Roh won by a threadbare margin, and South Korea narrowly escaped having a presidential election between two ultra-establishment conservatives. Imagine how different the election debates, esp. in regard to South Korea’s posture toward Pyongyang and Washington, would have been if the latter scenario had actually materialized?

If Roh was not elected on the back of a new leftist electoral majority, he seems to be utterly incapable of creating and nurturing such a majority now. Many of his signature leftist domestic reforms–repealing the National Security Law, establishing a truth commission to punish colonialist era collaborators, moving the capital south to weaken Seoul-based elites, relaxing Seoul University’s stringent admissions standards–have created a major backlash in the electorate. The upshot of all this? Roh has been extremely unpopular throughout his presidency (see http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200506/kt2005063018520211990.htm ). In fact, I believe the approval rating of around 20 percent he registered earlier this year is a historic low for any South Korean president. Further, that seeming unpopularity has translated into his own Uri Party suffering a crushing defeat in the most recent by-election. Needless to say, these are hardly signs that the South Korean electorate has lurched left. If anything, the data may lead one to entertain hopes that the South Korean electorate has become chastened about the limits of South Korea’s leftist agenda.

Now you raised a very fair objection in pointing out that I may be contradicting myself by arguing that (in my own words) Roh “won the presidency by exploiting an ugly wave of anti-Americanism following the accidental death of two teenagers in a collision with a U.S. military vehicle” and at the same time maintaining that reports of anti-Americanism in South Korea is greatly exaggerated. To quote you again, I had “[conceded] that there was real sentiment behind Roh’s victory.

I plead “not guilty” to your charge of contradiction here, and perhaps my analysis of that particular episode of anti-American eruption is emblematic of how I understand anti-Americanism in South Korea. While the protests were nasty and widespread, they were still a manifestation of passing emotions rather than fundamental beliefs. Unlike, say, anti-American protests in the Middle East, they were not motivated by serious policy differences with Washington or an aversion toward American values, but caused by anger at the way the deaths of the two girls were perceived to have been mishandled–an impression that both then president Kim Dae Jung and the ruling party candidate Roh played critical roles in encouraging.

That these sentiments were passing and neither permanent nor deep-seated is demonstrated by looking at the comprehensive poll data that Rand put out in its wide-ranging 2004 study titled “Ambivalent Allies?” The authors of that study examined polls tracking South Korean attitudes toward the U.S. from 1988 to 2003. Throughout that time frame, South Korean views toward the U.S. were generally favorable, and there were only three recorded downturns. December 2002 was–voila!–one of the only three periods where the U.S. was viewed more unfavorably than favorably during those 15 years (chapter 3). The other two occasions? During June 1995 and during February 2002.

Further, that these sudden, transitory upswings in anti-Americanism are driven by emotionalism rather than serious policy or value differences with the U.S. is punctuated by a rather revealing poll taken during one of the three downturn periods, February 2002. When asked to cite the biggest reason for their diminishing regard for the U.S., a whopping 65 percent cited the Apollo Ohno incident! Now this is pretty trivial stuff, an incident where South Koreans believed that one of their speed skaters was wrongly disqualified in that year’s Salt Lake City Winter Olympics on behalf of the American Ohno, who was awarded the Gold Medal (p. 69). Far behind the Ohno incident in importance were President Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech (18.8 percent) and the U.S. war against Afghanistan (8.1 percent). I would think that a genuine anti-Americanism would have emerged from sterner stuff.

Of course, chatter about culture or national character makes many enlightened Westerners squirm, but in the end I must turn to the cultural context to explain much of the above. The fact of the matter is that Koreans are an extremely emotional, volatile people; many have compared them to the Irish. Aidan Foster-Carter says South Koreans are primarily driven by the spleen; the political scientist Seung-Hwan Kim, in a revealing essay about anti-Americanism, points to the dominance of “ki-bun” (“a combitnation of mood, feelings, and emotions) as the motor of South Korean politics (see “Anti-Americanism in Korea, The Washington Quarterly, Winter 2002).

Certainly, no analysis of South Korean anti-Americanism is complete without incorporating this cultural context. The wild, (your term) “mercurial” gyrations you acknowledge in the South Korean public opinion is an outcome of the dominance of this ki-bun. So is the violent character of South Korean public life. In fact, to those who were born and raised in South Korea like myself, the incidences of random violence against American servicemen that you decry are not primarily “[expressions] of anti-Americanism. Rather, they are better interpreted simply as expressions of South Korea’s violent culture.

You also offer a lengthy summary of various polls that have persuaded you that “a clear majority [in South Korea] dislike “˜America.'” I will try to be quick here, but suffice to say I do not read those very data you cite the same way:

“¢ There is the matter of the reliability of these polls–which you too pronounce “dubious. Two polls you cite that took place in the same year and same month actually show different results. For instance, in the April 2005 Joongang Ilbo poll that asked to name the country that posed the greatest threat to South Korea, the U.S. is far behind both Japan and North Korea. But in the Frontier Times poll that took place at the same time, the U.S. leads all countries for that dubious distinction. It would be interesting to hear what could possibly cause such a discrepancy. For myself, I think your data tells me more about the inherent difficult of attempting to capture South Korea’s wildly volatile public opinion through static polls than anything else.

“¢ Second, I see no persuasive poll data that shows a “clear majority dislike “˜America.'” The only possible candidate here is the Pew Global Attitudes Project poll data that indicated that a minority of 46 percent held a “favorable” view of the U.S. But the question is how many held “unfavorable” view? Besides, the Rand study I cited earlier show that the “favorable” view rebounded to 50 percent by September 2003, four months after the Pew poll (p. 46). Again, the problem is that a historical context is lacking with these data, even if some of them do confirm your point.

“¢ Third, I see a lot of data you cited that really does not have much to do at all with anti-Americanism.

For example, again you make a great deal of June 2003 Pew poll data that purportedly show that–compared to other Asian nations surveyed–South Koreans put less emphasis on certain fundamental democratic or liberal values such as competitive elections, free press, fair judiciary, religious freedom, and free speech.

To begin with, if I were nitpicking, I could argue that the 48 percent South Koreans who thought free press was very important was a number higher than all other Asian countries surveyed except Bangladesh, not “among the lowest survey results in Asia” that you claim.

Next, in a more serious vein, I am not sure if the data says what you think it says on the surface. I assume you are trying to say that South Korea has a less democratic or liberal culture or institutions than other Asian countries surveyed. While I am a fan of cultural explanations and wholeheartedly agree that South Korean politics can be better understood through a Confucian or authoritarian lens (see an Asia Times essay I published last year titled “South Korea’s Retrograde Politics” http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/FI04Dg01.html ), it would take a lot more to persuade me that South Korea is less democratic or liberal than some of these Asian countries surveyed.

Consider, say, the question of religious freedom. Could it be that South Koreans deem it less important simply because religious conflict was one of the few conflicts that contemporary South Korea has been thankfully free of for most part? In contrast, in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan (which is for some reason considered part of the Middle East by the Pew Center)–all of which have been wracked by religious conflict in recent times–religious freedom is judged to be far more important. Another outlandish data, which to me clinches it (and you omit among the same group of questions about values), is the data that says South Koreans deem economic prosperity the least important among Asian nations surveyed! Pardon? Again, maybe the data simply shows South Koreans take prosperity for granted since that they are already prosperous?

Further, I don’t see how all this relates to anti-Americanism even if you are right that South Korea is less democratic or liberal than other peer Asian nations surveyed. I suppose a convergence of culture can help countries to grow closer together, but that is not always so. Although I don’t know if data are available, I suspect that the number of South Koreans who believed that the aforementioned list of democratic or liberal values were “very important” were lower than they were in December 2002 or May 2003 throughout those decades where South Koreans’ opinion of the U.S. were “favorable” for most part. Certainly, democratization in South Korea has been blamed for anti-Americanism in many quarters.

I have probably already written too much, so perhaps it’s time to wrap up. I obviously read the data that I have presented here and you have countered with differently than you do. I think they say that South Korean public generally has favorable views of the U.S., with a few highly publicized downturns owing to passing emotions that get out of hand for a time. The impression of widespread anti-Americanism is instead due to the fact that the Western media suddenly becomes transfixed by South Korea only during one of these downturns–or worse yet, when a particularly rambunctious minority does something outrageous that persuades the Western media that one of those downturns has arrived. And to the extent that anti-Americanism has in fact gained some “real” ground in recent years, it is due to a comprehensive propaganda effort of Roh’s leftist government–which can be countered by a new conservative government, which seems to be an increasingly greater likelihood in 2007 given Roh and his Uri Party’s immense unpopularity.

On the basis of all these factors, it seems to me rather myopic to give up on South Korea so soon.

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Freedom House Press Release

FREEDOM HOUSE CONFERENCE TO FOCUS
ON NORTH KOREA HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS

WASHINGTON, DC, July 8, 2005 — North Korea’s horrific human rights crisis will be the focus of a first-ever international conference, to be held July 19, 2005 in Washington, DC, Freedom House announced today.

The conference, titled “Freedom for All Koreans,” will feature Kang Chol Hwan, a defector to South Korea and author of “The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag,” and Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident, political prisoner and Israeli cabinet minister, and author of “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.”

The conference will take place at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. The gathering is part of Freedom House’s new Human Rights in North Korea Project, a year-long campaign to galvanize world opinion and alleviate the plight of the 20 million Koreans suffering under the dictatorship of Kim Jong Il.

Conference details, including an agenda, are available online here. The agenda also follows below this alert.

This day-long event will highlight the work of many dedicated individuals championing the cause of human rights in North Korea. Participants will include leaders of non-governmental organizations, human rights groups, religious leaders and government and civic leaders from across the United States, the Korean peninsula, Japan, and Europe. The goal of the conference is to generate awareness of ongoing, egregious human rights abuses occurring daily in North Korea, and to plan concrete and effective actions to alleviate the humanitarian crisis there.

Conference program highlights include:

— Opening remarks by Congressman Jim Leach, followed by the screening of the documentary films “Seoul Train” and “Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story;”

— North Korean defectors forum, including testimony from women victims of human trafficking in China;

— Luncheon keynote address by Natan Sharansky, distinguished senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem;

— Conversation with Natan Sharansky and Kang Chol Hwan, moderated by Senator Sam Brownback;

— Remarks by Congressman Frank Wolf.

The conference will conclude with a concert organized by LiNK (Liberation in North Korea), a university students group with over 70 chapters worldwide.

For more information on the Human Rights in North Korea Project and to register for the conference, click here.

EVENT DETAILS:
FREEDOM FOR ALL KOREANS
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
8:30am – 9:00pm

The Mayflower Hotel: Grand Ballroom

1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

AGENDA (draft)
8:30am-7:30pm
Pre-Registration and On-site Registration Check-in

Located at the Promenade in front of the Grand Ballroom.

9:30-10:00am
Opening Session:

The opening remarks will be given by Ambassador Mark Palmer, Freedom
House Board Member.

Opening Statement: U.S Congressman Jim Leach

10:00-10:45am
Documentary Presentations:

SEOUL TRAIN. Introduced by Jim Butterworth, producer and director. With
its riveting footage of a secretive underground railroad,Seoul Train is the gripping documentary expose into the life and death of North Koreans as they try to escape their homeland and China.

Special Guests: Tim Peters and Ki-Won Chun (to be confirmed).

ABDUCTION: The Megumi Yokota Story. Introduced by Directors Chris
Sheridan and Patty Kim. Japan, 1977. A young girl walks home from school on a dark lonely road that leads to the windswept shores. She says goodbye to her friends. They turn a corner. Then, 13-year Megumi Yokota vanishes without a trace. Years later, the shocking truth is revealed. In a stunning announcement, North Korea admits it kidnapped Japanese citizens to train North Korean secret agents. The true story of one family’s fight to find the truth. And a nation’s struggle for justice.

Special Guest: Norbert Vollertsen (to be confirmed)

11:00-11:50am
North Korean Defectors’ Forum

Moderator: Carl Gershman, President of National Endowment for Democracy.

The session will include testimony from women victims of human trafficking in China.

12:00-12:20pm
Luncheon Keynote Address by Natan Sharansky:

Speech Title (TBA)

Natan Sharansky was born in Ukraine in 1948 and studied mathematics in
Moscow. He worked as an English interpreter for the great Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, and himself became a champion of Soviet Jewry and a worker for human rights. Convicted in 1978 on trumped-up charges of treason and spying for the United States, Sharansky was sentenced to 13 years in prison. After years in the Siberian gulag, he
was released in a U.S.-Soviet prisoner exchange in 1986 and moved to
Israel, where he founded a political party promoting the acculturation of
Soviet immigrants. He is the author of The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror and currently a Distinguished
Senior Fellow at the Shalem Center.

12:20 -1:20pm
Lunch Break
1:30-2:15pm
Conversations: Life in a Gulag–Natan Sharansky and North Korean defector and author, Chol-Hwan Kang.

Moderator: U.S. Senator Sam Brownback

2:30-2:50pm
Remarks on Trafficking of Korean Women in China

Ambassador John R. Miller, Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons.

3:00-3:30pm
Interfaith Panel Discussion on North Korean Human Rights

Panelists: Rev. Richard Cizik (Vice-President, National Association of
Evangelicals) (to be confirmed), Rabbi Abraham Cooper (Associate Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center), Dr. Richard Land (President, Southern Baptist
Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) (to be confirmed), Rabbi David Saperstein (Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism) (to be confirmed), and Suzanne Scholte (President, Defense Forum
Foundation).

3:00-5:00pm
NGO Working Meeting

This is a closed working group meeting at Freedom House’s Ballroom.
(1319 18th St., NW)

3:30-5:15pm
Freedom Sessions: Organized by KCNK

KCNK (Korean Churches for North Korea) will host short lectures and multi-media presentations in a non-denominational and welcoming setting.
Featured musical guests, Glorious Lampsa choir from the Philadelphia area
will perform.

4:30-5:30pm
Book Signing (Room TBA)

– Natan Sharansky, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, (Korean Language Version).

– Kang, Chol Hwan, Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean
Gulag. Speak with the author who has recently met with President Bush to discuss human rights abuses in North Korea.

5:30-7:30pm
Reception

Master of Ceremonies: Peter Ackerman, Freedom House Board Chairman
VIP Guests to be announced . . .

7:30-9:00pm
Concert and Presentation: Organized by LiNK

LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) is a grassroots human rights organization
with over 70 chapters world wide.

The concert will feature dynamic groups including The Ides, Kevin So, and Culture Shock Dance Troupe, as well as special presentations by LiNK featuring recent footage from North Korea and China, and a general presentation on how the younger generation of students and young professionals has stepped up to take part in the movement for North Korean human rights worldwide.

Continue Reading

Freedom House Press Release

FREEDOM HOUSE CONFERENCE TO FOCUS
ON NORTH KOREA HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS

WASHINGTON, DC, July 8, 2005 — North Korea’s horrific human rights crisis will be the focus of a first-ever international conference, to be held July 19, 2005 in Washington, DC, Freedom House announced today.

The conference, titled “Freedom for All Koreans,” will feature Kang Chol Hwan, a defector to South Korea and author of “The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag,” and Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident, political prisoner and Israeli cabinet minister, and author of “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.”

The conference will take place at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. The gathering is part of Freedom House’s new Human Rights in North Korea Project, a year-long campaign to galvanize world opinion and alleviate the plight of the 20 million Koreans suffering under the dictatorship of Kim Jong Il.

Conference details, including an agenda, are available online here. The agenda also follows below this alert.

This day-long event will highlight the work of many dedicated individuals championing the cause of human rights in North Korea. Participants will include leaders of non-governmental organizations, human rights groups, religious leaders and government and civic leaders from across the United States, the Korean peninsula, Japan, and Europe. The goal of the conference is to generate awareness of ongoing, egregious human rights abuses occurring daily in North Korea, and to plan concrete and effective actions to alleviate the humanitarian crisis there.

Conference program highlights include:

— Opening remarks by Congressman Jim Leach, followed by the screening of the documentary films “Seoul Train” and “Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story;”

— North Korean defectors forum, including testimony from women victims of human trafficking in China;

— Luncheon keynote address by Natan Sharansky, distinguished senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem;

— Conversation with Natan Sharansky and Kang Chol Hwan, moderated by Senator Sam Brownback;

— Remarks by Congressman Frank Wolf.

The conference will conclude with a concert organized by LiNK (Liberation in North Korea), a university students group with over 70 chapters worldwide.

For more information on the Human Rights in North Korea Project and to register for the conference, click here.

EVENT DETAILS:
FREEDOM FOR ALL KOREANS
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
8:30am – 9:00pm

The Mayflower Hotel: Grand Ballroom

1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

AGENDA (draft)
8:30am-7:30pm
Pre-Registration and On-site Registration Check-in

Located at the Promenade in front of the Grand Ballroom.

9:30-10:00am
Opening Session:

The opening remarks will be given by Ambassador Mark Palmer, Freedom
House Board Member.

Opening Statement: U.S Congressman Jim Leach

10:00-10:45am
Documentary Presentations:

SEOUL TRAIN. Introduced by Jim Butterworth, producer and director. With
its riveting footage of a secretive underground railroad,Seoul Train is the gripping documentary expose into the life and death of North Koreans as they try to escape their homeland and China.

Special Guests: Tim Peters and Ki-Won Chun (to be confirmed).

ABDUCTION: The Megumi Yokota Story. Introduced by Directors Chris
Sheridan and Patty Kim. Japan, 1977. A young girl walks home from school on a dark lonely road that leads to the windswept shores. She says goodbye to her friends. They turn a corner. Then, 13-year Megumi Yokota vanishes without a trace. Years later, the shocking truth is revealed. In a stunning announcement, North Korea admits it kidnapped Japanese citizens to train North Korean secret agents. The true story of one family’s fight to find the truth. And a nation’s struggle for justice.

Special Guest: Norbert Vollertsen (to be confirmed)

11:00-11:50am
North Korean Defectors’ Forum

Moderator: Carl Gershman, President of National Endowment for Democracy.

The session will include testimony from women victims of human trafficking in China.

12:00-12:20pm
Luncheon Keynote Address by Natan Sharansky:

Speech Title (TBA)

Natan Sharansky was born in Ukraine in 1948 and studied mathematics in
Moscow. He worked as an English interpreter for the great Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, and himself became a champion of Soviet Jewry and a worker for human rights. Convicted in 1978 on trumped-up charges of treason and spying for the United States, Sharansky was sentenced to 13 years in prison. After years in the Siberian gulag, he
was released in a U.S.-Soviet prisoner exchange in 1986 and moved to
Israel, where he founded a political party promoting the acculturation of
Soviet immigrants. He is the author of The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror and currently a Distinguished
Senior Fellow at the Shalem Center.

12:20 -1:20pm
Lunch Break
1:30-2:15pm
Conversations: Life in a Gulag–Natan Sharansky and North Korean defector and author, Chol-Hwan Kang.

Moderator: U.S. Senator Sam Brownback

2:30-2:50pm
Remarks on Trafficking of Korean Women in China

Ambassador John R. Miller, Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons.

3:00-3:30pm
Interfaith Panel Discussion on North Korean Human Rights

Panelists: Rev. Richard Cizik (Vice-President, National Association of
Evangelicals) (to be confirmed), Rabbi Abraham Cooper (Associate Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center), Dr. Richard Land (President, Southern Baptist
Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) (to be confirmed), Rabbi David Saperstein (Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism) (to be confirmed), and Suzanne Scholte (President, Defense Forum
Foundation).

3:00-5:00pm
NGO Working Meeting

This is a closed working group meeting at Freedom House’s Ballroom.
(1319 18th St., NW)

3:30-5:15pm
Freedom Sessions: Organized by KCNK

KCNK (Korean Churches for North Korea) will host short lectures and multi-media presentations in a non-denominational and welcoming setting.
Featured musical guests, Glorious Lampsa choir from the Philadelphia area
will perform.

4:30-5:30pm
Book Signing (Room TBA)

– Natan Sharansky, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, (Korean Language Version).

– Kang, Chol Hwan, Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean
Gulag. Speak with the author who has recently met with President Bush to discuss human rights abuses in North Korea.

5:30-7:30pm
Reception

Master of Ceremonies: Peter Ackerman, Freedom House Board Chairman
VIP Guests to be announced . . .

7:30-9:00pm
Concert and Presentation: Organized by LiNK

LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) is a grassroots human rights organization
with over 70 chapters world wide.

The concert will feature dynamic groups including The Ides, Kevin So, and Culture Shock Dance Troupe, as well as special presentations by LiNK featuring recent footage from North Korea and China, and a general presentation on how the younger generation of students and young professionals has stepped up to take part in the movement for North Korean human rights worldwide.

Continue Reading

111963656430388633

Excerpts from The American Enterprise, July/August 2005

To read the articles in full, buy your own here. Just seven bucks. If you found this article interesting, consider that it caused South Korea to pull its funding for AEI (scroll down). I’m renewing my AEI membership as a small token of my disapproval of any foreign government trying to control what I read, especially this one, and also because the magazine is always interesting reading and well worth a hundred bucks a year. Similarly inclined?

Excerpts from Daniel Kennelly:
Time for an Amicable Divorce with South Korea

Repositioning and trimming our troops in South Korea is a signal that we are preparing seriously to deal with the danger posed by North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Il.

____________________

The current government in Seoul is the most anti-American in the short history of the Republic of Korea. It is a left-wing administration that has fanned public sentiment against U.S. troops. Yet suddenly this government issued statements making it clear it wanted to keep the U.S. garrison in place more than the Americans themselves did.

____________________

Moving U.S. troops away from the DMZ tripwire, and out of the reach of North Korea’s artillery and tactical missiles, is a sensible move if hostilities might be on the way.

____________________

In the carrots-and-sticks approach we have taken toward North Korea, the sticks are strategic bombers, such as the ones the Pentagon moved to Guam in the weeks before the Iraq war in spring 2003. . . . By contrast, our nearly 37,000 soldiers in South Korea–and the alliance that keeps them there–are purely defensive. . . . Yet the presence of these U.S. Army brigades allows the North to hold us hostage, because the North would likely respond to any U.S. air strikes by firing thousands of missiles at our bases in the South. Simply put, therefore, our troop presence in South Korea no longer deters the North. It deters us. (emphasis in original).

____________________

Besides, the South Koreans are now grown-ups fully capable of taking care of themselves. . . . Today, the situation is completely different [than it was during the Cold War]. [South Korea] has the industrial, technological, and demographic basis to field a military that would rip North Korea’s million-man paper tiger to shreds. It’s time we let the South Koreans defend themselves.

Author Daniel Kennelly is managing editor of The American Interest.

Excepts from Gordon Cucullu:
A Stiff Test for America

It would be entirely in keeping with North Korea’s character to sell weapons of mass destruction to non-governmental terror organizations. Hard cash, not morality or legitimacy, carries the day in Pyongyang.

_______________

With this new development, why focus on just another stop-gap measure against North Korean scheming? Could the United States join with its regional partners to get rid of an atrocious dictator and his nuclear threats once and for all? Lifting the pall of a nuclear war, while liberating the oppressed North Korean people and reuniting the Korean peninsula under a democratic government and a free-market economy is a worthy goal. But is it realistic?

_______________

Because of the Souh’s craven politics, Kim Jong Il in the North has been under little pressure to reform or abide by his nuclear weapons agreements. . . . South Korean politicians have moved toward a bizarre neutral stance that presumes to mediate between Pyongyang and Washington, declaring both sides must make “concessions. The North Koreans have thus made progress toward their longstanding objective of splitting South Korea from the U.S. To their shame, many South Koreans have responded positively to blatant North Korean appeals to “Han” ethnic chauvinism. The South Korean public needs to be made aware of the consequences of their surrender.

____________________

What may end up convincing China is the possibility of a nuclear Japan.

____________________

By far the gravest risk to China of a miscalculation in North Korea is the specter of millions . . . of North Koreans fleeing across their border to escape a collapsing Kim Jong Il regime. . . . There is a model we can learn from. Thailand went through a similar but smaller crisis following the fall of Vietnam and the takeover by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. . . . The solution that worked in Thailand was a string of tightly supervised and controlled U.N. camps. Establishment of a similar safety zone where abused North Koreans could revover their mental and physical health, and participate in education and job training programs to bring them into the twenty-first century, would allow the dictatorship of Kim Jong Il to collapse without creating a humanitarian and political crisis.

____________________

Is China up for this level of responsibilty? Many observers say no. This could be a test of China’s new strength and maturity as an international power.

Gordon Cucullu is the author of Separated at Birth, which I reviewed here, if you’re interested. In his book, he discusses the refugee camp idea is much greater detail, along with his decades of experience with Korea during his time in the Special Forces and in the corporate world. Gordon is also a fellow made member of the North Korean Freedom Coalition, complete with diamond pinkie ring.

Excerpts from Victor Davis Hanson: No Easy Choices

More likely the ascendant Chinese are amused by the sheer blood sport of seeing their crazed vassal tie an exasperated America in knots. Is North Korea really out of control, and thus a threat to the breakneck development of China, or is it a useful surrogate to remind the Japanese and South Koreans who really holds the leash of this rabid dog?

____________________

South Korea suffers increasingly the postmodern maladies of the affluent–and cynical–West. Its citizens want pan-Korean solidarity, but not to the point of losing the one-sided benefits of their American alliance. University students demonstrate for Americans to get out of Seoul. But they don’t really want us to leave the Demilitarized Zone. We are supposed to say on the DMZ and endure the increasingly cheap and bothersome anti-Americanism of the “friends” we protect. We could leave in a huff, but we might then watch a successful democracy be blackmailed or shelled, sacrificing a half-century of achievement that cost billions of dollars and thousands of American lives.

____________________

There are no good choices now–just the hard lesson not to allow a maniacal regime to acquire nuclear weapons in the first place.

Author and historian Victor Davis Hanson is a regular contributor to The National Review and blogs here.

Update:

Read Norbert Vollertsen’s article, “A Depraved Society We Can’t Ignore,” here.

Excerpts from Ambassador James Lilley:
Don’t Count on China or South Korea.

Ambassador Lilley begins with a discussion of China’s long history of involvement in and influence over Korean affairs, leading up to China’s decision to send a team to the 1988 Seoul Olympics, establish diplomatic relations with the South in 1992, and “deftly manage” the entry of both Koreas into the United Nations.

China now seeks to increase its influence on the Korean peninsula and gradually reduce the U.S. military presence there. But North Korea’s adventurism with weapons of mass destruction adds a volatile element. China depends on America as an important commercial partner, while also facing the U.S. as a strategic competitor over issues like Taiwan. China sees North Korea as a buffer, and as a useful distraction that keeps U.S. military power preoccupied.

______________________

The South Koreans understand that a strong U.S. military presence in their region is necessary as a credible deterrent. They also welcome the economic stability created by the American umbrella. They share the U.S. objective of North Korean reform, but they care less than we do about monitoring it.

Both the Chinese and the South Koreans want to manage North Korea their way, not ours. Our expectations for their help in any collective talks aimed at influencing North Korea, therefore, must remain modest.

Not exactly incendiary stuff–and that’s actually as extreme as it gets–but when I ran into Ambassador Lilley two days ago, he told me that the South Koreans were not happy, to put it mildly. The most provocative language in the entire piece is its title.

James Lilley served at United States Ambassador to both South Korea and China.

Excerpts from Nicholas Eberstadt:
A Real and Present Danger

If South Korea was not happy with Ambassador Lilley, “royally pissed” might be a better way to describe their reaction to Nicholas Eberstadt’s piece. It may not have helped that the Chosun Ilbo misquoted him. First, some of Eberstadt’s key grafs:

The North Korean government did not join the world’s nuclear club suddenly, on a whim. This was the predictable culmination of decades of steady, deliberate effort in a multifaceted program of for building weapons of mass destruction–not only nuclear weapons but also chemical and biological munitions and ballistic missiles.

_________________

Yet after more than four years in office, the Bush administration still seems to lack an effective strategy for dealing with North Korea. Thus far, it has merely confronted Pyongyang with an attitude. And the problem continues to grow worse. . . . How have the U.S. and its allies responded? With six-party talks that merely resulted in calls for further rounds of talk. This reactive American approach may be leading Pyongyang to conclude that it can deter and manipulate the U.S. with nuclear threats. . . . To date, the United States, its Asian allies, and the rest of the world community have demonstrated to Kim Jong Il that he need fear no appreciable penalties for creating an atomic arsenal of his own.

Eberstadt goes on to list a long history of North Korean provocations that incurred no significant punitive response, noting Seoul’s “timid mutterings” and stating that “Beijing and Moscow paid Pyongyang to merely show up.

Until last year, many Western observers and policymakers seemed to feel that international trafficking in nuclear materials was the one red line North Korea would not dare violate. Now it appears that that line has also been crossed. The U.S. government has announced that North Korea provided Pakistan and perhaps even Libya with processed uranium after 9/11–possibly as recently as 2003.

_________________

Far from deferring or mitigating the peril of conflict, such Western fecklessness toward North Korea [as Colin’s Powell’s statement that “˜we don’t have any red lines’] only magnifies the scale of the expected disaster. For more than a decade, a combination of talk and bribery has been tried to no effect. We all know how the Clinton administration’s mid-1990s attempts to buy cooperation turned out: Pyongyang took the money and plowed it into new covert nuclear programs. The Bush administration’s passive-aggressive approach has hardly generated better results.

Among Eberstadt’s specific recommendations:

Define “success” and “failure” for North Korea negotiations. . . . The administration must not be shy about declaring the process a failure if in fact it is. Rewarding Pyongyang for merely showing up at the talks should not count as a good result.

________________

Work around the pro-appeasement crowd in the South Korean government. . . . The core of this new [Roh/Uri] government has proven implacably anti-American and reflexively in favor of appeasing Pyongyang.

Eberstadt calls its base “a coterie of leftist academics and activists. Nothing libellous there. He also calls for greater pressure on China, recommending that we convey some pointed threats, but not specifying what they should be. Finally, Eberstadt says that the United States must be ready for what he calls “extra-diplomatic action,” including “hard-line sanctions and military options.

Political economist Nicholas Eberstadt is author of “The End of North Korea” and is an AEI fellow. I read it, and I recommend it notwithstanding the fact that things haven’t exactly worked out that way yet. Read a review here.

Royally Pissed South Korean Government
Yanks AEI Funding

In the wake of this issue, the Korea Foundation, which the Chosun Ilbo calls “a body under the Foreign Ministry,” cut off all funds to that (clench teeth now) neocon think-tank called The American Enterprise Institute.

Ruling party officials dislike the direction of AEI activity. They seem particular [sic] allergic to senior fellow Nicholas Eberstadt, who told the Seoul Shinmun in November that Cheong Wa Dae and the Korean National Security Council viewed U.S. President Bush’s reelection as an emergency, adding he could name those who were praying for Bush’s defeat.

Cheong Wa Dae expressed displeasure at the time saying the statement was groundless, and the ruling party demanded an end to funding of the AEI.

In the recent edition of American Enterprise, Eberstadt said the core of the Korean government had demonstrated it was unforgivably anti-American and called Seoul a “runaway” U.S. ally. On June 6, he attacked President Roh Moo-hyun and his predecessor Kim Dae-jung, saying Korea’s last two presidents, two self-proclaimed fighters for human rights, ignored the plight of North Korean refugees.

Sorry, but this is flatly false. Eberstadt never used the words “runaway” or “unforgiveably. It would be fair, however, to quote Eberstadt as accusing Roh and Kim of ignoring the plight of North Korean refugees, however, because Roh and Kim have ignored the plight of North Korean refugees (one Anti-Unification Ministry official infamously compared human rights for the North Korean people to “pearls for a pig.”). It’s also fair to say that the TAE issue’s authors have a “hostile policy” toward the current South Korean government, which is itself a substantial obstruction to forcing North Korea to improve human rights conditions and relent on its nuclear ambitions.

It is also inaccurate to suggest that AEI is uniformly a neocon outfit: Ambassador Lilley is certainly no neocon, and it’s a small minority of conservatives of any variety who support bribing the North Koreans again without demanding some verifiable concessions, at least on nukes. The most “paleo” of conservatives, evangelical Christians, are a substantial–if not the largest–part of the human rights constituency; then again, this whole “paleo”/”neo” thing was always lost on me. Finally, a narrow majority of the Jewish supporters of the human rights constituency are liberals (Stephen Solarz, Tom Lantos, Joe Lieberman).

That said, I’m somewhat mystified that the South Korean government gave AEI money for this long. If they were expecting something in exchange for their money, they should be on the phone with Customer Service.

My reaction? As I said, I’m renewing my AEI membership. Join here if you’re similarly inclined. The magazine alone is worth the money.

(Back to OneFreeKorea)

Continue Reading

111963656430388633

Excerpts from The American Enterprise, July/August 2005

To read the articles in full, buy your own here. Just seven bucks. If you found this article interesting, consider that it caused South Korea to pull its funding for AEI (scroll down). I’m renewing my AEI membership as a small token of my disapproval of any foreign government trying to control what I read, especially this one, and also because the magazine is always interesting reading and well worth a hundred bucks a year. Similarly inclined?

Excerpts from Daniel Kennelly:
Time for an Amicable Divorce with South Korea

Repositioning and trimming our troops in South Korea is a signal that we are preparing seriously to deal with the danger posed by North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Il.

____________________

The current government in Seoul is the most anti-American in the short history of the Republic of Korea. It is a left-wing administration that has fanned public sentiment against U.S. troops. Yet suddenly this government issued statements making it clear it wanted to keep the U.S. garrison in place more than the Americans themselves did.

____________________

Moving U.S. troops away from the DMZ tripwire, and out of the reach of North Korea’s artillery and tactical missiles, is a sensible move if hostilities might be on the way.

____________________

In the carrots-and-sticks approach we have taken toward North Korea, the sticks are strategic bombers, such as the ones the Pentagon moved to Guam in the weeks before the Iraq war in spring 2003. . . . By contrast, our nearly 37,000 soldiers in South Korea–and the alliance that keeps them there–are purely defensive. . . . Yet the presence of these U.S. Army brigades allows the North to hold us hostage, because the North would likely respond to any U.S. air strikes by firing thousands of missiles at our bases in the South. Simply put, therefore, our troop presence in South Korea no longer deters the North. It deters us. (emphasis in original).

____________________

Besides, the South Koreans are now grown-ups fully capable of taking care of themselves. . . . Today, the situation is completely different [than it was during the Cold War]. [South Korea] has the industrial, technological, and demographic basis to field a military that would rip North Korea’s million-man paper tiger to shreds. It’s time we let the South Koreans defend themselves.

Author Daniel Kennelly is managing editor of The American Interest.

Excepts from Gordon Cucullu:
A Stiff Test for America

It would be entirely in keeping with North Korea’s character to sell weapons of mass destruction to non-governmental terror organizations. Hard cash, not morality or legitimacy, carries the day in Pyongyang.

_______________

With this new development, why focus on just another stop-gap measure against North Korean scheming? Could the United States join with its regional partners to get rid of an atrocious dictator and his nuclear threats once and for all? Lifting the pall of a nuclear war, while liberating the oppressed North Korean people and reuniting the Korean peninsula under a democratic government and a free-market economy is a worthy goal. But is it realistic?

_______________

Because of the Souh’s craven politics, Kim Jong Il in the North has been under little pressure to reform or abide by his nuclear weapons agreements. . . . South Korean politicians have moved toward a bizarre neutral stance that presumes to mediate between Pyongyang and Washington, declaring both sides must make “concessions. The North Koreans have thus made progress toward their longstanding objective of splitting South Korea from the U.S. To their shame, many South Koreans have responded positively to blatant North Korean appeals to “Han” ethnic chauvinism. The South Korean public needs to be made aware of the consequences of their surrender.

____________________

What may end up convincing China is the possibility of a nuclear Japan.

____________________

By far the gravest risk to China of a miscalculation in North Korea is the specter of millions . . . of North Koreans fleeing across their border to escape a collapsing Kim Jong Il regime. . . . There is a model we can learn from. Thailand went through a similar but smaller crisis following the fall of Vietnam and the takeover by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. . . . The solution that worked in Thailand was a string of tightly supervised and controlled U.N. camps. Establishment of a similar safety zone where abused North Koreans could revover their mental and physical health, and participate in education and job training programs to bring them into the twenty-first century, would allow the dictatorship of Kim Jong Il to collapse without creating a humanitarian and political crisis.

____________________

Is China up for this level of responsibilty? Many observers say no. This could be a test of China’s new strength and maturity as an international power.

Gordon Cucullu is the author of Separated at Birth, which I reviewed here, if you’re interested. In his book, he discusses the refugee camp idea is much greater detail, along with his decades of experience with Korea during his time in the Special Forces and in the corporate world. Gordon is also a fellow made member of the North Korean Freedom Coalition, complete with diamond pinkie ring.

Excerpts from Victor Davis Hanson: No Easy Choices

More likely the ascendant Chinese are amused by the sheer blood sport of seeing their crazed vassal tie an exasperated America in knots. Is North Korea really out of control, and thus a threat to the breakneck development of China, or is it a useful surrogate to remind the Japanese and South Koreans who really holds the leash of this rabid dog?

____________________

South Korea suffers increasingly the postmodern maladies of the affluent–and cynical–West. Its citizens want pan-Korean solidarity, but not to the point of losing the one-sided benefits of their American alliance. University students demonstrate for Americans to get out of Seoul. But they don’t really want us to leave the Demilitarized Zone. We are supposed to say on the DMZ and endure the increasingly cheap and bothersome anti-Americanism of the “friends” we protect. We could leave in a huff, but we might then watch a successful democracy be blackmailed or shelled, sacrificing a half-century of achievement that cost billions of dollars and thousands of American lives.

____________________

There are no good choices now–just the hard lesson not to allow a maniacal regime to acquire nuclear weapons in the first place.

Author and historian Victor Davis Hanson is a regular contributor to The National Review and blogs here.

Update:

Read Norbert Vollertsen’s article, “A Depraved Society We Can’t Ignore,” here.

Excerpts from Ambassador James Lilley:
Don’t Count on China or South Korea.

Ambassador Lilley begins with a discussion of China’s long history of involvement in and influence over Korean affairs, leading up to China’s decision to send a team to the 1988 Seoul Olympics, establish diplomatic relations with the South in 1992, and “deftly manage” the entry of both Koreas into the United Nations.

China now seeks to increase its influence on the Korean peninsula and gradually reduce the U.S. military presence there. But North Korea’s adventurism with weapons of mass destruction adds a volatile element. China depends on America as an important commercial partner, while also facing the U.S. as a strategic competitor over issues like Taiwan. China sees North Korea as a buffer, and as a useful distraction that keeps U.S. military power preoccupied.

______________________

The South Koreans understand that a strong U.S. military presence in their region is necessary as a credible deterrent. They also welcome the economic stability created by the American umbrella. They share the U.S. objective of North Korean reform, but they care less than we do about monitoring it.

Both the Chinese and the South Koreans want to manage North Korea their way, not ours. Our expectations for their help in any collective talks aimed at influencing North Korea, therefore, must remain modest.

Not exactly incendiary stuff–and that’s actually as extreme as it gets–but when I ran into Ambassador Lilley two days ago, he told me that the South Koreans were not happy, to put it mildly. The most provocative language in the entire piece is its title.

James Lilley served at United States Ambassador to both South Korea and China.

Excerpts from Nicholas Eberstadt:
A Real and Present Danger

If South Korea was not happy with Ambassador Lilley, “royally pissed” might be a better way to describe their reaction to Nicholas Eberstadt’s piece. It may not have helped that the Chosun Ilbo misquoted him. First, some of Eberstadt’s key grafs:

The North Korean government did not join the world’s nuclear club suddenly, on a whim. This was the predictable culmination of decades of steady, deliberate effort in a multifaceted program of for building weapons of mass destruction–not only nuclear weapons but also chemical and biological munitions and ballistic missiles.

_________________

Yet after more than four years in office, the Bush administration still seems to lack an effective strategy for dealing with North Korea. Thus far, it has merely confronted Pyongyang with an attitude. And the problem continues to grow worse. . . . How have the U.S. and its allies responded? With six-party talks that merely resulted in calls for further rounds of talk. This reactive American approach may be leading Pyongyang to conclude that it can deter and manipulate the U.S. with nuclear threats. . . . To date, the United States, its Asian allies, and the rest of the world community have demonstrated to Kim Jong Il that he need fear no appreciable penalties for creating an atomic arsenal of his own.

Eberstadt goes on to list a long history of North Korean provocations that incurred no significant punitive response, noting Seoul’s “timid mutterings” and stating that “Beijing and Moscow paid Pyongyang to merely show up.

Until last year, many Western observers and policymakers seemed to feel that international trafficking in nuclear materials was the one red line North Korea would not dare violate. Now it appears that that line has also been crossed. The U.S. government has announced that North Korea provided Pakistan and perhaps even Libya with processed uranium after 9/11–possibly as recently as 2003.

_________________

Far from deferring or mitigating the peril of conflict, such Western fecklessness toward North Korea [as Colin’s Powell’s statement that “˜we don’t have any red lines’] only magnifies the scale of the expected disaster. For more than a decade, a combination of talk and bribery has been tried to no effect. We all know how the Clinton administration’s mid-1990s attempts to buy cooperation turned out: Pyongyang took the money and plowed it into new covert nuclear programs. The Bush administration’s passive-aggressive approach has hardly generated better results.

Among Eberstadt’s specific recommendations:

Define “success” and “failure” for North Korea negotiations. . . . The administration must not be shy about declaring the process a failure if in fact it is. Rewarding Pyongyang for merely showing up at the talks should not count as a good result.

________________

Work around the pro-appeasement crowd in the South Korean government. . . . The core of this new [Roh/Uri] government has proven implacably anti-American and reflexively in favor of appeasing Pyongyang.

Eberstadt calls its base “a coterie of leftist academics and activists. Nothing libellous there. He also calls for greater pressure on China, recommending that we convey some pointed threats, but not specifying what they should be. Finally, Eberstadt says that the United States must be ready for what he calls “extra-diplomatic action,” including “hard-line sanctions and military options.

Political economist Nicholas Eberstadt is author of “The End of North Korea” and is an AEI fellow. I read it, and I recommend it notwithstanding the fact that things haven’t exactly worked out that way yet. Read a review here.

Royally Pissed South Korean Government
Yanks AEI Funding

In the wake of this issue, the Korea Foundation, which the Chosun Ilbo calls “a body under the Foreign Ministry,” cut off all funds to that (clench teeth now) neocon think-tank called The American Enterprise Institute.

Ruling party officials dislike the direction of AEI activity. They seem particular [sic] allergic to senior fellow Nicholas Eberstadt, who told the Seoul Shinmun in November that Cheong Wa Dae and the Korean National Security Council viewed U.S. President Bush’s reelection as an emergency, adding he could name those who were praying for Bush’s defeat.

Cheong Wa Dae expressed displeasure at the time saying the statement was groundless, and the ruling party demanded an end to funding of the AEI.

In the recent edition of American Enterprise, Eberstadt said the core of the Korean government had demonstrated it was unforgivably anti-American and called Seoul a “runaway” U.S. ally. On June 6, he attacked President Roh Moo-hyun and his predecessor Kim Dae-jung, saying Korea’s last two presidents, two self-proclaimed fighters for human rights, ignored the plight of North Korean refugees.

Sorry, but this is flatly false. Eberstadt never used the words “runaway” or “unforgiveably. It would be fair, however, to quote Eberstadt as accusing Roh and Kim of ignoring the plight of North Korean refugees, however, because Roh and Kim have ignored the plight of North Korean refugees (one Anti-Unification Ministry official infamously compared human rights for the North Korean people to “pearls for a pig.”). It’s also fair to say that the TAE issue’s authors have a “hostile policy” toward the current South Korean government, which is itself a substantial obstruction to forcing North Korea to improve human rights conditions and relent on its nuclear ambitions.

It is also inaccurate to suggest that AEI is uniformly a neocon outfit: Ambassador Lilley is certainly no neocon, and it’s a small minority of conservatives of any variety who support bribing the North Koreans again without demanding some verifiable concessions, at least on nukes. The most “paleo” of conservatives, evangelical Christians, are a substantial–if not the largest–part of the human rights constituency; then again, this whole “paleo”/”neo” thing was always lost on me. Finally, a narrow majority of the Jewish supporters of the human rights constituency are liberals (Stephen Solarz, Tom Lantos, Joe Lieberman).

That said, I’m somewhat mystified that the South Korean government gave AEI money for this long. If they were expecting something in exchange for their money, they should be on the phone with Customer Service.

My reaction? As I said, I’m renewing my AEI membership. Join here if you’re similarly inclined. The magazine alone is worth the money.

(Back to OneFreeKorea)

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Freedom House North Korean Human Rights Conference

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Freedom House is pleased to announce our first international event in a year-long advocacy campaign on North Korean Human Rights, to be held on TUESDAY, JULY 19th, 2005 at The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.

This day-long conference will highlight the work of many dedicated individuals who have championed the cause of North Korean human rights. The event will feature distinguished speakers (including a bi-partisan Congressional delegation), exhibits, documentaries, panel discussions, breakout sessions, cultural and spiritual activities and a rally in support of North Korean human rights. Our aim is to raise awareness of the egregious human rights abuses happening each day in North Korea and to plan concrete actions for the future.

We sincerely hope that you will be a part of this momentous occasion. If you or your organization would like to set up an information table at the conference, please contact Ms. Jessica L. Barnes at (202) 296-2861 ext. 203 or Mr. Yonghwa “Peter” Lee at (202) 296-2861 ext. 206 at your earliest convenience.

This message serves as a Save the Date and a formal invitation with the conference schedule will follow. Please feel free to forward this email message to other interested parties.

As a point of interest, we would like to bring your attention to a powerful new film entitled, North Korea, a Day in the Life. This film will be shown on June 17, 2005 at the AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival. Please see the announcement below for more detailed information.

Yours truly,

The North Korean Human Rights Team at Freedom House:

Jae Ku, Director
Jessica L. Barnes, Program Officer
Yonghwa Lee, Program Officer

_________________________________________
Flier for North Korea: A Day in the Life
Playing at SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival 2005 “The Preeminent US documentary festival. – Screen International
Pieter FleuryDenmark / North Korea, 2004, 48 minutes
Few places on Earth are as mysterious to outsiders as North Korea. Because its borders are closed to the outside world, Westerners have almost no sense of what everyday life is like there. Dutch filmmaker Pieter Fleury tracks a day in the life of an average family. This film is sure to make Kim Jong Il glow with pride. The rest of the world, however, may be shocked by this beautifully haunting documentary.
The day begins with a nutritious breakfast at the home of Hong Sun Hui, a female worker in a textile factory. Cameras follow as Mrs. Hong goes off to the factory, her brother goes to school to learn about an abstraction called “the internet,” and her daughter goes to kindergarten, where she learns that “flowers need the sun and she needs the love of the Great Leader to grow. At the end of the day, the three reconvene and share their stories as any normal family would, unaware of the massive amount of propaganda they’ve encountered in one short day.
Representatives from the North Korean film bureau were able to dictate much of what Fleury was allowed to record. But in a film with no narration, Fleury has presented as close to a subjective view as possible without being allowed to say a word. The result is a film that encourages viewers to interpret what they see for themselves.

Tickets: www.SILVERDOCS.com or 1.866.SLVR DCS
Press Inquiries: Jody Arlington, PR Manager, SILVERDOCSPh: 301.495.6759, jarlington@AFI.com (more here)

Editorial note: I had to pass up an invite to a special screening of this film at the Dutch Embassy because of work duties, but a fellow member of the North Korea Freedom Coalition raved about it. I recall reading excellent reviews from a left-of-center source as well, which is odd. I hope to get a chance to see for myself.

(home)

Continue Reading

Freedom House North Korean Human Rights Conference

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Freedom House is pleased to announce our first international event in a year-long advocacy campaign on North Korean Human Rights, to be held on TUESDAY, JULY 19th, 2005 at The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.

This day-long conference will highlight the work of many dedicated individuals who have championed the cause of North Korean human rights. The event will feature distinguished speakers (including a bi-partisan Congressional delegation), exhibits, documentaries, panel discussions, breakout sessions, cultural and spiritual activities and a rally in support of North Korean human rights. Our aim is to raise awareness of the egregious human rights abuses happening each day in North Korea and to plan concrete actions for the future.

We sincerely hope that you will be a part of this momentous occasion. If you or your organization would like to set up an information table at the conference, please contact Ms. Jessica L. Barnes at (202) 296-2861 ext. 203 or Mr. Yonghwa “Peter” Lee at (202) 296-2861 ext. 206 at your earliest convenience.

This message serves as a Save the Date and a formal invitation with the conference schedule will follow. Please feel free to forward this email message to other interested parties.

As a point of interest, we would like to bring your attention to a powerful new film entitled, North Korea, a Day in the Life. This film will be shown on June 17, 2005 at the AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival. Please see the announcement below for more detailed information.

Yours truly,

The North Korean Human Rights Team at Freedom House:

Jae Ku, Director
Jessica L. Barnes, Program Officer
Yonghwa Lee, Program Officer

_________________________________________
Flier for North Korea: A Day in the Life
Playing at SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival 2005 “The Preeminent US documentary festival. – Screen International
Pieter FleuryDenmark / North Korea, 2004, 48 minutes
Few places on Earth are as mysterious to outsiders as North Korea. Because its borders are closed to the outside world, Westerners have almost no sense of what everyday life is like there. Dutch filmmaker Pieter Fleury tracks a day in the life of an average family. This film is sure to make Kim Jong Il glow with pride. The rest of the world, however, may be shocked by this beautifully haunting documentary.
The day begins with a nutritious breakfast at the home of Hong Sun Hui, a female worker in a textile factory. Cameras follow as Mrs. Hong goes off to the factory, her brother goes to school to learn about an abstraction called “the internet,” and her daughter goes to kindergarten, where she learns that “flowers need the sun and she needs the love of the Great Leader to grow. At the end of the day, the three reconvene and share their stories as any normal family would, unaware of the massive amount of propaganda they’ve encountered in one short day.
Representatives from the North Korean film bureau were able to dictate much of what Fleury was allowed to record. But in a film with no narration, Fleury has presented as close to a subjective view as possible without being allowed to say a word. The result is a film that encourages viewers to interpret what they see for themselves.

Tickets: www.SILVERDOCS.com or 1.866.SLVR DCS
Press Inquiries: Jody Arlington, PR Manager, SILVERDOCSPh: 301.495.6759, jarlington@AFI.com (more here)

Editorial note: I had to pass up an invite to a special screening of this film at the Dutch Embassy because of work duties, but a fellow member of the North Korea Freedom Coalition raved about it. I recall reading excellent reviews from a left-of-center source as well, which is odd. I hope to get a chance to see for myself.

(home)

Continue Reading