Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oh, those poor misunderstood pro-North Korean activists in South Korea

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The Huffington Post has a piece (via Global Post) about those in South Korea who find themselves under scrutiny or under arrest for publicly mourning Kim Jong-il and/or doing other things sympathetic to the North:
"The main problem is that our country was divided by an outside force. We need American forces to withdraw from this country to gain true autonomy. That is the most important thing, not freedom or democracy. Those are secondary," said Kim, who speaks effusively and uses many old-fashioned Korean honorifics.

On his lapel, he wears a pin of the Korean peninsula shaded entirely in blue, a color associated with integrity.

Kim draws inspiration from the philosophy of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung, who preached the notion of self-reliance and said that Koreans were the masters of their country's development. Much of the North's propaganda is based on the idea that the country must resist the corrupting influence of the outside world and boldly forge an independent path.

To activists like Kim, this is paramount. "North Korea has its own final say. It doesn't have to follow the direction of outsiders. I don't believe freedom exists in this colonized nation," he said, referring to South Korea.
The problem is that such people utterly ignore the unspeakable human rights abuses that go on in North Korea. Well, some don't ignore them so much as deny that they actually happen: it's a fiction of the propaganda forged by the colonizers. The economic dysfunction is real, of course, but that's all because of the United States and its bootlickers with their boycott of DPRK goods.

But North Korea's systemic cruelty doesn't really get covered in the HuffPo article, which wants to make a point about free speech as if there isn't a major military threat from a regime responsible for killing millions of its own people. I guess what the author is calling "pro-North activists" I would call hard-core chinboistas, and we appear to disagree on how much of a danger they are.

I risk invoking argumentum ad hitlerum, but when get into millions killed, the comparison is apt: How are people who praise Hitler treated in, say, Germany?

Anyway, it's not so simple. It certainly seems a bit more complex than the tourist-journalists at the Huffington Post seem able to handle.

Below, by the way, is the comment I left at the Huffington Post site. I'm reproducing it here because, well, about half the comments I leave at HuffPo never make it past the moderators:
The author does address some of North Korea's recent violence, but to a layperson unfamiliar with North Korea, it would be easy to get the impression that North Korea is just another country — a misunderst­ood country at that — and not one that deliberate starves, tortures, and/or murders millions of its citizens and regularly threatens military attack on its neighbors.

This is no mere free speech issue, but one that comes from a context of a real enemy trying to do real harm.
[source]

UPDATE:
Christine Ahn (a favorite Pyongyang parrot) has also penned a Huffington Post piece that echoes similar sentiments, but goes a bit further.
 ... Sphere: Related Content

4 comments:

  1. Your site takes too long to load in comparison to other Blogger sites. I keep getting a window about some video player not working.

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    1. If you're noticing that now, it might be because there's a CBS video on the main page of the site (Christina Cha). Network site stuff tends to be a bit slower than, say, Youtube.

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  2. Having lived in South Korea for more than a decade, I agree with this (fragment of a) statement:
    it would be easy to get the impression that North Korea is just another country — a misunderst­ood country at that — and not one that deliberate starves, tortures, and/or murders millions of its citizens and regularly threatens military attack on its neighbors.

    Still, I can see why 'tourist-journalists' (good phrase, by the way) might not. I distrust much of what the US government tells me about foreign countries. I don't believe that Arab nations "Hate us for our freedom" and it seems clear that Saddam didn't WMD. I am too young to remember but my understanding is that the US played fast and loose with facts during the Vietnam war.

    It seems a good default position to distrust American propaganda. To me, it seems obvious to distrust North Korean propaganda, but I can see that others might not know that yet.

    I still distrust the Norks but blogposts like this one make me wonder -for the briefest instant - if my views are biased.

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  3. That was a nice comment by you on the Huffington Post piece. Well said.

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