Saturday, April 10, 2010

Weighing in on the walkabouts of Robert Park and Aijalon Mahli Gomes

The following is a slightly edited version of a comment I left at One Free Korea, addressing this comment by HW:
Many of the people criticizing Robert and Aijalon’s actions are not willing themselves to suffer for the sake of the North Korean people. Is it necessary to suffer? Can’t they just be free without any Christians having to suffer for it? I don’t think so. If more Christians made sacrifices for the gospel to reach North Korea, we wouldn’t have to waste our time arguing about whether or not Robert and Aijalon’s entry will do more harm than good.
This is a common theme from defenders of Robert Park's actions. It seems that such analysis assumes that (a) the walkabouters are doing something that results in good, (b) the walkabouters are not bolstering the regime by their acts, and (c) this is the only way that one can suffer or sacrifice themselves for the North Korean people.

Regarding (a), being ground up and spit out by the propaganda machine such that your comprehensive recantation is publicized and then you have “intense temptations to kill [your]self” is not resulting in good.

Regarding (b), it would seem that the Pyongyang regime is squeezing financial and/or political capital out of these visits. With the Accidentally On Purpose Tourists™ (formerly the Stupogants™, but I’m trying to be nicer these days), we have former President Bill Clinton giving a propaganda coup via a coveted photo-op. With Robert Park, we may have had tacit quid pro quo that Pyongyang would not be put back on the list of state sponsors of terror. Who knows what will have to be given up in order to see Aijalon Mahli Gomes safe back in Boston?

Regarding (c), far more real good can be done by “suffering” in China helping ferry North Korean refugees out of the PRC. I’ve met some of the brave souls doing that, and words cannot describe their bravery in the face of the risks they take. That is something that can be done for those who want to engage in battle against evil forces. Suffer, they will.

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