[EDITORIALS]Head-to-Head on TraffickingThe acting U.S. ambassador to Seoul and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have made conflicting statements on the South Korean government's follow-up measures to the recent designation of Korea as a "third-tier" country in a recent U.S. State Department's "trafficking in persons" report.
Evans Revere, the acting ambassador, said during a breakfast lecture to the Korean-American Association on Thursday that the Korean government recently notified him that it is willing to take steps to deal with problems pointed out in the report and that it would consult with the United States. But the Korean government responded that it has said nothing to Mr. Revere other than its spokesman's statement of July 13, after the report was released. The government said in the statement that it believes South Korea meets most minimum requirements for eradicating human trafficking and demanded that the United States revise the report to reflect the Korean situation accurately.
Who is right? If Mr. Revere is correct, the government must have concealed the truth and announced the statement for the consumption of its domestic audience, which was shamed by the designation of our country as responsible for human trafficking. If, however, Mr. Revere misinterpreted the facts or was confused, it casts a great deal of doubt on his diplomatic skills.
The government should spell out in detail what Korean law says about human trafficking, what international treaties South Korea has signed to extradite criminals involved in human trafficking, including smugglers, and what institutional mechanisms there are to protect the victims of human trafficking. Most important, it should describe how those tools have been used. The State Department placed China in the second tier - which means it believes China abides by regulations to eradicate human trafficking - even as it cited as a problem the trafficking of Chinese women through Korea. If only to shed light on contradictions like this, the South Korean government should make clear the true state of affairs. If possible, it should also explain why Mr. Revere came to make his remark. Only one side can be right.