Thursday, February 24, 2005

NK Human Rights

I recently read this short article about a call from former prisoner-of-conscience Baik Tae-Ung for the Korean left to discuss the problem of North Korean human rights. I think it's a brave statement for him to make. As he says:

"Because South Korea's past dictators used North Korean human rights to justify their oppression and anti-communist ideology, it's true that democratization forces find it somewhat unpleasant to actively raise the North Korean human rights issue," Baik said. Instead, he suggested that improvements in Pyongyang’s human rights record would strengthen a “Sunshine Policy” of engagement with the North and, later, help with “a vision for a unified Korea". But he cautioned, "We just have to raise the issue of North Korean human rights based on precise facts, and we mustn't let a political agenda or outside forces use the issue as a negotiating tool."

I think the caution at the end of the quote is telling. It's extremely important to avoid having such a discussion being used by the US or other forces as a pretext for violence. Anyways, this a pretty sore topic as far as I know for the South Korean left, but I'd be curious to see where the discussion goes.

More on this later...

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