Human Rights: North vs. South Korea

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”  Winston Churchill

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”  Winston Churchill

“South Korean President Lee Myung-bak deserves praise for one accomplishment above all others:  He has put human rights in [Socialist/Communist] North Korea on the world’s agenda.  This certainly has hit a nerve in Pyongyang.  The late Kim Jong II cut off talks with the South, and now Kim Jong Eun has embarked on a campaign of abuse against President Lee that is vile even by that regime’s standards.

“A new report by South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission provides further vindication.  It documents the suffering of Pyongyang’s roughly 200,000 political prisoners, held in a network of labor camps across the country.  The report contains detailed and harrowing account from 200 former prisoners.  The shocking nature of the crimes they witness should convince the Obama Administration that making any deal to provide aid that extends the life of such a regime is immoral.

“The report is broadly similar in content to one the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea published in April. The North’s totalitarian system imprisons people for seemingly trivial offenses, such as singing a South Korean song, and one person’s perceived disloyalty can doom an entire family.  Once in the camps, prisoners suffer from malnutrition, exposure and overwork.  Then there are guards who enjoy torturing those under their control, or play sadistic games with them.

“Some may question the significance of exposing all of this, given that everyone already knows North Korea is not the workers’ paradise it claims to be.  But it is important that the Human Rights Commission, an independent and well-respected body funded by Seoul to safeguard human rights in the South, has put so much evidence on record.  The testimonies could form the basis for a Nuremberg-style trial after the North collapses.

“”That might help prisoners right away. More and more information about the outside world filters into the North, especially among the elite, so officials’ responsible for the labor camps should become aware of the danger of future prosecution.  Knowing that their crimes are being recorded will serve as a deterrent to gratuitous cruelty.

“Of course, the agony will only truly end when the Kim family is overthrown. And based on the experience of the last two decades, that is unlikely as long as they can play the game of nuclear blackmail to extract the resources they need from Seoul, Washington and other donors.  Exposing the true nature of the regime should refute claims that change through engagements is possible and close the aid spigots.

“It is encouraging that South Korean public opinion toward the North has undergone a dramatic shift in this direction over the last few years, largely as a result of the growing number of defectors.  More than 23,000 now live in the South, and their stories and concern for the families left behind have led to pressure on Beijing to stop repatriating North Korean refugees caught in China.

“Consider the news this week of Kim Young-hwan’s arrest in Dalian, China, where he was trying to help North Korean defectors.  Mr. Kim is a member of the ‘386 generation,’ South Koreans who were born in the 1960s and fought for democracy in the 1980s.  Like many of his fellow student leaders, Mr. Kim once sympathized with North Korea but has become disillusioned.  He and many other former supporters of Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Myoo-hyun’s ‘sunshine policy’ of engagement now work in NGOs that broadcast into the North or publicize the refugees’ stories.

“Reports like these deserve wide attention so that the rest of the world has the same epiphany.  Sustaining Pyongyang with aid only extends the misery of those imprisoned in the North’s gulag.” Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2012, p. A12

Editor’s comment:  Communist Cuba is to the United States what Communist North Korea is to South Korea.  Both Communist Cuba and Communist North Korea are equally vile and depraved and yet the American left (and especially the Congressional Black Caucus) heap praise upon the Cuban leadership.  Come to think about it the Pope’s last visit to Cuba was a disaster too.  Would the Pope treat North Korea and its Communist leadership the same way he treated Communist Fidel and his brother and their partner Hugo Chavez?  Good question! 

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