A Sign of Hope

February 26, 2010

(AFP) – Feb 3, 2010

SEOUL — North Korea must respect human rights if it wants to improve relations with the United States and end its international isolation, a US envoy said Thursday.

Robert King, special envoy for North Korean human rights, said in a message to a Seoul seminar that the US government remains “deeply concerned” about the issue and the plight of North Korean refugees.

“Respect for human rights by the DPRK (North Korea) will have significant impact on the prospect of closer ties with the US and will be necessary for North Korea to fully participate in the international community,” King said in the message read at the seminar.

In its traditional New Year editorial, the North called for an end to longstanding hostile relations with the United States.

US ambassador Kathleen Stephens told the forum the State Department would provide three million dollars this year to promote human rights and fund radio broadcasts into the communist state.

“We will continue to fund radio broadcasts into North Korea to try to provide information about the outside world,” she said, adding that her government will also work to support North Korean refugees.

Almost all North Korean refugees flee first to China, which repatriates those whom it catches as economic migrants even though they face harsh punishment back home.

Parliament Speaker Kim Hyung-O urged South Korea’s conservative government to address the North’s security concerns.

“A declaration guaranteeing the security of the North’s regime is necessary… when the North begins to trust the South, inter-Korean ties will improve greatly,” he said in his welcome address at the seminar.

Advertisements

SPAANK in the Daily Bruin

February 24, 2010

http://www.dailybruin.com/articles/2010/2/24/former-north-korean-prisoner-share-experience-ucla/

Join us this Wednesday, Feb 24th as special guest Shin Dong Hyuk shares his powerful and unique story of being born and raised in a concentration camp IN NORTH KOREA. Having witnessed his own mother sentenced to death by hanging, and experiencing re-education of what’s happening in the world, Shin Dong Hyuk gives us a window to see into the deathly mysterious happenings in North Korea. There will also be a Q&A session where you can actually ask any questions you might have for him, at the end of his presentation.

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Time: 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Location: UCLA Law School Building, Room 1347

___________________________________________________________
About the speaker Mr. Shin 

Until his escape in 2005 Shin Dong Hyuk had been a prisoner all his life: innocent of any crime, but born behind bars. Bearing the thick scars of his ordeal, Shin Dong Hyuk’s account of Total Control Camp No 14 reveals perhaps the darkest side of Kim Jong Il’s communist dictatorship – a labour camp where tens of thousands of political prisoners are subjected to torture, beatings and execution. 

___________________________________________________________

Hosted by Students Promoting Awareness About North Korea (SPAANK), LiNK (Liberty in North Korea), and the UCLA International Human Rights Law Program. 

SPAANK is a student run group at UCLA seeking to, above all, promote awareness about the human rights violations occurring everyday in North Korea. We hope to incite and mobilize students to take action against the injustices, on behalf of the voiceless and oppressed.

The International Human Rights Law Program at UCLA School of Law, the first program of its kind in southern California, brings together cutting-edge human rights education, scholarship, advocacy and policy-oriented research. As one of the finest research universities in the world, situated at a major global crossroads and in one of the most diverse regions in the country, UCLA is emerging as a vital center for international human rights work. 

LiNK’s work focuses on awareness through mobilizing the grassroots and telling these stories of hope and survival. We meet with governments, NGOs and institutions to advocate for the North Korean people, while working directly with refugees through a network of shelters in China and Southeast Asia – protecting, educating and assisting them to eventually find freedom and empower them to live new lives.

Kim, the love baby

February 16, 2010

This year, February 14 meant a lot of different things for different people. Some relished in romance, chocolate and flowers, while some relished in their singleness and ate black noodles with a few other very single friends. To the East Asian communities around the world, February 14 was also a celebration for the New Year.  To North Korea, the variety of celebrations to be held on February 14 were out-shadowed by a single, particular event: Their beloved leader, Kim Jong-Il’s birthday.

On this internationally recognized “day of love”, North Korea celebrated the 68th birthday for their “beloved” leader. The irony of this cracks me up. Imagine your boyfriend bringing home cake and flowers “hey honey, happy kimjongil day” and places a pink cake in front of you in the shape of kim jong-il’s pink face.

North Korea is almost non-existent in the viral world today, but their main websites definitely did not miss this event. Checkout North Korea’s official DPRK news website

http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm

There’s an article that talks about celebrations held in “various different countries”. Apparently name-dropping is a big deal. Specialists from countries like Ethiopia, Mongolia, Iran, Democratic Congo etc…  claimed that “Kim Jong Il is a prominent thinker and theoretician recognized by the international community”.  I mean, I”ll be honest, I was surprised and thought to myself ‘really, North Korea has friends?” We all hear about big-name China, helping them out sometimes, but who knew the little countries like Ethiopia had relations with North Korea?

Clearly, there’s so much to be learned about this mysterious country. For now, thank God you were able to celebrate Valentines and Chinese New Year with family and friends and not forced to celebrate 68 years of tyranny.

A Chinese border guard was referring to the North Korean women who would become trafficked in China when he said.. “If they are told they can eat to their hearts’ content [in China], many North Korean women are happy to be on their way.”

The article is a bit ambiguous if these women knew that they were going to be trafficked in China or not but regardless, the quote shows what people will do in order to reduce hunger. Hunger, is declared as a violation of human rights by the UN Human Rights Council. Food crisis, not only in NK but any part of the world, is a man-made disaster with identifiable causes that obliged all States to act without delay to bring relief to the victims. In a world where we have enough food to feed twice the current world population, hunger is not inevitable.

___________________________________

This article was posted today (Feb. 12, 2010) on the front page of Chosun Ilbo (Major newspaper in S.Korea) English Page.

Border Guards ‘Key to Trafficking in N.Koreans’

North Korean and Chinese border guards play a vital part in the trafficking of North Korean women to China, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Thursday.

In a feature report, the Japanese daily quoted a Chinese border guard as testifying he caught a few female North Korean defectors in their teens and 20s crossing the Duman (or Tumen) River and handed them over to a Korean-Chinese human trafficker.

The Chinese border guard said he gets requests from a trafficker in China and informs his North Korean counterparts, who then ask a trafficker in the North to find suitable women. The North Korean guards then let the women pass in the area on the Chinese guard’s watch. This particular Chinese border guard alone had sold some 40 to 50 women per year this way.

Traffickers reportedly pay about 6,000 to 7, 000 yuan (approximately W1.02 million to W1.19 million) a head. Of the money, 4,000 yuan go to the Chinese border guard, who hands 1,000 yuan over to a North Korean guard.

The Chinese guard added, “If they are told they can eat to their hearts’ content [in China], many North Korean women are happy to be on their way.” An estimated 150 human traffickers work in the border area.

disgusting

February 12, 2010

South Korean officially claims sovereignty over the entire Korean peninsula, and by default regards North Korean refugees as South Korean citizens.  I’m pretty sure this means that South Korea regards the common North Korean people as South Korean citizens as well.  So…  If you take what I just said above and the article below and put them together, that means that South Koreans are fully aware and indifferent to over 200,000 of their OWN citizens languishing in concentration camps 30 miles north of their capital city.

uhhhh… WHAT!?!

Oh, come on.  We’ve gone berserker in the past for people messing with our citizens.  I’m pretty sure South Korea will do the same… wait what?

MHMMMM. read the article. it’s actually pretty ridiculous.

*

For the haters out there eager for a chance to scream, shout, and insult someone:  No, I am not bashing on South Korea or its people.  It is unfortunate that the South Korean people are so indifferent to an issue so important to them and the world, and I wish they would get their mind out of their bubbles.  What I AM trying to say is that we just found ourselves another group of people to Promote Awareness to.  I never thought we would be promoting awareness about the North Korean atrocities to the South Koreans, but now we know.

“OH NO! So much more work!” Yeah, Yeah. Suck it up, and just do it.  If you want to know why, read the previous post.

*

Article attached below for your convenience.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

S.Koreans ‘Indifferent to N.Korean Gulag’

South Koreans are largely indifferent to human rights abuses in the North such as labor camps, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday.

In an article titled, “Facing Apathy and Gulags: Ex-North Korean Inmates Struggle to Raise Concern in South,” the U.S. daily cites a former prisoner and erstwhile soldier, Jung Kyoung-il, who said he was stunned by questions from a group of young South Korean soldiers when he spoke to them about the North Korean gulag.

One soldier asked, “How many days of leave are North Korean soldiers given?” Another asked, “Are North Korean soldiers allowed to visit their girlfriends?” But none seemed interested in the brutal reality of the camps.

The daily pointed out that Seoul in a rare report recently acknowledged that hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are languishing in the camps but has made no public effort to pressure the Kim Jong-il regime. It said many South Koreans hold “deeply conflicted” feelings toward the North and are uncomfortable admitting that the camps exist.

Jung said many students sleep through his lectures, an indifference that still shocks him five years after he defected following three years in the notorious Yoduk camp, where he was subjected to back-breaking labor, a sparse diet and long nights of forced study of nation founder Kim Il-sung’s philosophies, the paper said.

About 200,000 North Koreans are presumed to be languishing in six concentration camps, and of 18,000 defectors in the South, 32 are former inmates, according to the article, often for trivial offenses.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

short post. it’s 4am right now on my clock. i’m tired.

hopefully an eye opener

February 7, 2010

*please excuse any random jumps in my train of thought and any grammatical mistakes.  I tend to rant and go crazy when I talk/write about this issue.*

North Korea fires more artillery toward sea border

It’s a front.  Unlike previous posts, the entire article isn’t posted upfront because there is no need.  (If you want to read the article, I made the headline a link.  It will direct you to the article at Yahoo! News.)

We see headlines with the words “North Korea, aggression, weaponry, artillery, smuggles, boom, bang, etc.” pop up (no joke) every other week.  And, honestly, we’re used to it.  Many of us (including myself) associate North Korea with “the man with a perm” and all the ridiculous things he does.  We rarely think of children picking up blackened rice grains from the ground, widespread starvation, gulags set in strategic locations throughout the country, and the many atrocities occurring in North Korea.

It’s all f&%*ing genius.  All the ridiculous “acts of aggression” that North Korea commits on a monthly (sometimes weekly) basis, aren’t North Korea trying to “show its might to the world.”  They know perfectly well that they will lose everything if their small skirmishes with South Korea escalates into an all-out war. NO. It’s not acts of aggression, all this is just a highly successful attempt to draw the world’s attention AWAY FROM the human rights crisis in North Korea.  We say, “No… no matter what they do, we will always know of the crimes against humanity that they are committing,” but how many times have we looked at a headline with the words “North Korea” and said “Ah. Whatever, they’re just acting up again.”?

And it makes sense; what North Korea wants the most right now is a stable relationship with the United States and the rest of the free world.  Kim is known to drive a Mercedes while bumping to to his iPod and drinking fine French wines.  If they’re rambunctious enough, the world will soon say “Stop with your useless saber rattling, and we’ll let you play with us.”

The United States and South Korea have both denounced North Korea’s appalling human rights record in official statements, but when they hold summits with or send envoys to North Korea, the subject of human rights is never brought up. Apparently, a nuclear free Korea is more important than the lives of millions.  A North Korea without nuclear weapons does make me feel better and help me sleep better at nights, but that doesn’t mean we should allow North Korea to get away with its crimes against humanity in exchange for denuclearization.

If I’m not mistaken, we did something like this before.   We turned a blind eye to a nation’s policy of systematic extermination of specific groups of people in exchange for God-knows-what, and it resulted in the death of approximately 6 million civilians. Sound familiar? Yes, I’m talking about the Holocaust.  And am I saying that this issue is as devastating and as bad as the Holocaust? No, I’m saying that this issue is far worse and will escalate into something far more devastating than the Holocaust.  Hitler had 10 years; Kim and his father has had 60 years and counting.  The Allied learned of the extent of the Holocaust AFTER invading Germany and German occupied states.  Same with us; we won’t know the true numbers until after North Korea decides to get its mind out of the gutter.  The numbers we get are mere estimates with possibly thousands more unaccounted for.

Whenever I think about people who did nothing as they witnessed and/or heard about the Holocaust and did nothing about it, I want to ask “Why didn’t you do anything?  Even just saying, “That’s not right,” could have changed something.”

Think about it: 50 or so years down the line, when your grandchildren come home after learning about the human rights crisis issue in North Korea and how long it lasted, they’ll ask you “Why didn’t you do anything?  The teacher said the whole world knew about it.  Couldn’t you have done something… anything?”