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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

AP sees the light, and it is good (thanks Yahoo)

Real gulags, not three squares a day in sunny Cuba, still exist. Someday, when the facts come out, if they ever do, I think we will find that the North Korean mass murder machine rivaled Pol Pot and Hitler,** if not Stalin and Mao. Nobody knows how many people have died in the gulags of North Korea since Stalin installed the first "Great Leader."

North Korea will imprison someone for the slightest insult of Kim Jong Il. Whole families will suffer the same fate so the 'crimes' of "counter-revolutionary thought" or "reactionary thinking" don't spread. Human beings are used as guinea pigs for chemical weapons testing, reminiscent of Unit 731*** (Japanese occupied China). Starvation, beatings, and summary execution are the norm. Forced abortions have been reported, along with persistent stories of cannibalism.

By KWANG-TAE KIM, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 22, 2:35 PM ET

SEOUL, South Korea - A former North Korean political prisoner Tuesday offered grim details of life in a communist regime prison camp, saying he saw many inmates die from overwork and starvation.

The ex-inmate, who survived the prison camp at Yodok, about 70 miles northwest of Pyongyang, said a former defector was beaten to death for having contacted Christian representatives in China, he said.

"Most people died of malnutrition and its complications," said the inmate, who used the pseudonym Kim Chol-soo to protect relatives in the North from retaliation. Wearing a dark hat and hospital mask to hide his face, Kim told a news conference that prisoners received a starvation ration of 21 ounces of food a day.

Kim said some inmates didn't mourn the deaths of fellow prisoners because they could get more rations if they buried them.

"I once buried a man, and it was good, as I ate fully that day," Kim said.

He gave reporters a list of inmates including 34 North Koreans who had tried to defect and 82 others including former senior bureaucrats, security officials and a diplomat. The identities of the prisoners could not be independently confirmed but Kim said he remembered their personal details because he was in charge of supervising fellow inmates.

Kim released the list in cooperation with the activist group Democracy Network against North Korea Gulag. The group's members include prominent defector Kang Chol Hwan, author of a memoir about his decade of detention at Yodok, who met this year with President Bush.

The North claims it doesn't violate human rights despite widespread accusations of torture, public executions and other abuses. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are believed to be held in its prison camps for political reasons, the State Department said in a report earlier this year.

*Sorry, nothing here.

** Ignoring the fact Hitler started WWII for a moment. That body count would put him at the top of the list.

*** Some scientists from Unit 731 were later excused for their crimes against humanity to be employed by the United States, sans human experimentation.

UPDATE: Frontpage Mag - Ignoring the Desperate People

Ignoring the Desperate People
By Gordon Cucullu | November 22, 2005

President George Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun met in Kyongju just prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference. They toured the famous Bulguksa temple and its grounds while discussing options to deal with another part of Korea overrun by aberrant ideology: communist North Korea under dictator Kim Jong Il. That the two leaders seemed to come away from their bilateral meetings with a common cause was heartening for many observers. There have been serious issues between the Roh and Bush administrations, most centered around North Korea.

The rift between America and South Korea has been growing since 1997 when committed leftist Kim Dae Jung was elected to the presidency. Kim actively moved the government of South Korea away from open conflict with North Korea. Moreover, in a diplomatic maneuver called “duplicitous” by former National Security Advisor Richard Allen, Kim positioned South Korea between North Korea and the U.S. as a supposedly neutral broker between the two. After decades of standing shoulder to shoulder with South Korea against hostile forces, Kim betrayed that relationship by cozying up to the North.

It was revealed after Kim left office and his like-minded successor President Roh Moo Hyun took office, that massive corruption and bribery characterized the Kim presidency. In fact, upwards to $1.5 billion US dollars were funneled surreptitiously to North Korea by Kim in order to establish a pretense that his vaunted “Sunshine Policy” was working. While the move won Kim the Nobel Peace Prize (joining luminaries like Yassar Arafat and Jimmy Carter) his real legacy will be his craven approach to South-North relationships and his disgraceful venality. Kim was willing to sacrifice as many of his Northern brothers and sisters as necessary in order to make his own legacy a success. Like many who value legacy over morality and who lack courage to do the right thing, Kim’s memory is forever tarnished.

Unfortunately, Roh Moon Hyun is following in his predecessor’s footsteps. His administration may not be as crooked, although cursory contemporary investigations would lead us to think that corruption is pervasive. Nevertheless, Roh has vigorously pursued a policy of appeasement toward the North and consistently voiced veiled hostility and suspicion toward the US. That said, some of the actions of the Roh government have been supportive of US regional and international policy. The South Koreans have fielded a 3,300-man troop contingent that is serving in Iraq as part of the Coalition forces.

So while President Bush owed a thank you to Roh for his country’s support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Iraqi reconstruction, Bush would have been justified in pushing Roh toward a more moral position on North Korea. Bush was firm, as had been expected, about Kim Jong Il’s continued development of nuclear weapons. Under Bush and Clinton before him, U.S. policy has been set against a nuclear North Korea. However, the two American presidents adopted radically different policies toward achieving that goal.

As detailed in my book Separated at Birth, the North Korean nuclear issue has dominated regional relationships with North Korea since the late 1980s. The original dictator of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, had nuclear ambitions as early as the mid-1960s. In 1994 when it seemed as if the crisis would reach a flash point, former President Jimmy Carter, at the urging of then Vice President Al Gore, was given the green light to cut a desperate deal with North Korea (See also Ben Johnson’s recent reviews of Carter’s new book). For a decade afterwards the world was able to pretend that North Korea had ceased nuclear ambitions. However despite promises to the contrary, nuclear and missile research dominated Kim’s priority list. Meanwhile, food aid poured into the small country in unprecedented amounts.

While receiving unimaginable amounts of food aid, fuel oil, medicines, economic investment, and hard cash transfers, the Kim Jong Il regime diverted the aid to military and party pockets. Using starvation as civilian control measures, Kim cold-bloodedly allowed upwards of 3 million innocent North Korean citizens to starve. In a country of mass hunger, Kim directed that 25% of collective farmland be converted to opium poppy growth. Kim liked to manufacture heroin and sell it for scarce hard currency. He expanded the concentration camps to clamp down further on his restless population, and reacted hysterically to any refugees unlucky enough to be captured and returned to North Korea by China’s harsh forcible repatriation policy. Summary public executions became common, and have even made a special program on CNN that showed smuggled video of refugees being shot at the stake amidst a public poverty and squalor that defies description.

We know from credible sources that experimentation with poison gas is common in Kim’s prisons along with testing of poisons and biological warfare agents. We have documented stories of forcible abortion of pregnant women, persecution of Christians, and elimination of families down through three generations by a paranoid, self-absorbed dictatorship. In America last year, after months of hard work, primarily by members of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, especially Suzanne Scholte and Mariam Bell, Congress passed and the president signed the North Korea Human Rights Act. This is a remarkable act in that it acknowledges the horrible abuses of the Kim regime and that requires all negotiations and interactions with North Korea include demands of immediate reform.

For this reason, it is a continuing disappointment that discussions with North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia – all Six Party talk members – have failed to abide by both the spirit and letter of the new law. Even President Bush on this most recent Asia visit, at least according to preliminary reports, did not raise human rights issues along with the strategic arms limitations as is required. While we do not know for a fact that human rights in North Korea was not discussed, it is apparent that none of the covering media reported such discussions, nor were they mentioned in depth in any of the bilateral memoranda issuing from high level meetings.

While diplomats continue to posture and country leaders continue to maneuver, the people of North Korea continue to suffer. America leads the world in moral clarity and expressed values. In order to be true to that vision, we must speak for the people of North Korea until they are allowed to have their own voice.

This is an important read because it highlights the disconnect between Washington and Seoul on the critical issues of diplomacy, security, and crimes against humanity. Many South Koreans seem to think the United States is the problem. The obvious solution is withdrawl of all ground troops from South Korea. It will give the DPRK one less reason for paranoia. But I'm sure they will quickly adapt and find the withdrawl 'threatening' in some way.

1 comment:

nuke gingrich said...

...Sen. Dick Durbin could not be reached for comment/