Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just say no to letting Robert Park go to the DMZ

Anybody who reads One Free Korea (herehere, here, and here) knows I'm no fan of Robert Park's antics. It was foolish of him to traipse into North Korea, and it may have even endangered the lives of people he purports to be helping, not to mention that the US may have lost political and/or financial capital by securing his release.

Robert Park ended up in a mental hospital in Long Beach — he's got some personal issues that need to be taken care of — but a judge released him. Reporters asked him what he would do next, but instead of saying he was going to Disneyland, he gave them indication he is headed for South Korea and will journey to the DMZ:
Friends and family of Park are concerned after he apparently professed a desire to return to South Korea and take action at the DMZ, according to an e-mail from Suzanne Scholte, the chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC), sent to Jo Sung-rae, a friend and fellow activist of Park's.

"I am writing this email to specifically ask you that if he should arrive in Korea that you provide him with 24-hour prayer and personal protection," reads the e-mail that was forwarded to The Korea Times by another activist. "He spoke frequently while in Washington D.C. about wanting to take his own life and do something drastic at the DMZ."

In the e-mail, Scholte, who had been helping prepare a press conference for Park, said, "It became very clear to all of us that Robert was still suffering from the effects of the torture he experienced in North Korea...Because of our love for him, we should do all we can to shelter and protect him and make it possible for him to be cared for so that he could recover from all that he has been through."
Holy effin' crap! This is a recipe for disaster. The man has marched into North Korea once already and one has every reason to expect he would try to do that again. The guy has no concern for his own safety and the safety of others, and the DMZ puts you in North Korean territory. And unlike Disneyland, there's no turnstile... you just keep walking.

And I seriously suspect that's what he will try to do. But the problem is that the DMZ is the kind of place where people get killed when someone tries to cross over from one side to the other without permission.

This guy is a loose cannon that is demonstrating that he is a danger to himself and others, and I suspect that he was like that before the North Koreans got hold of him. Instead of egging him on and calling him a hero for his actions, recognize that he needs to be reined in and possibly kept under surveillance in a place where he can't hurt himself.


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  1. I met Robert before he went to North Korea. He was zealous and had a passion to help North Koreans, and had been helping them in many ways. I am not supporting what he did, but I am supporting him as a person, who is definitely struggling.

    The US did not pay any money to get him out of North Korea. All funds used were personal, from friends or family (air fare... and...The North was not paid off)

    I truly hope and pray he does not go to the DMZ. That would accomplish nothing of value. He really does need to heal from the things he went through in North Korea, and I pray he will get through this, regaining sanity and peace.

  2. mariposa75 wrote:
    The US did not pay any money to get him out of North Korea.

    And you know that how?

    Even if it turns out no actual dollars changed hands, there are some (see One Free Korea) who seem a clear example of political capital having been expended by keeping North Korea off the list of countries promoting terrorism.

    When Americans wander into North Korea — Robert Park, Laura Ling, Euna Lee, etc. — one way or another we have to offer Pyongyang something to get them out. Robert Park's friends should have recognize that his zeal was a bit off the mark and prevented him from going.

    Instead, we get people like KCJ who encourage such dangerous and ludicrous behavior.

  3. I agree with Kushibo. Even if the US didn't spend a dime, antics like this are using up precious political capital. It comes at a time when the North's blunders(currency reform, arms shipments) provided the US an opportunity to really have an advantage in future negotiations, but thanks to these people it has been diminished significantly.


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