[FORUM]Turning a blind eye to the North

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[FORUM]Turning a blind eye to the North

Song Du-yul, a Korean-German sociologist, called himself a “border man” between the North and South. If the National Intelligence Service had not found out that he joined the Workers’ Party and was appointed an alternate member of the Politburo, he might remain a noble overseas scholar who contributed to the reunification and democratization of his fatherland.
He might be able to settle down in his hometown on Jeju island, and apparently spend the rest of his life enjoying peace as a guru respected by a horde of students and visitors. At the same time, he might be engaged in secret activities to turn South Korea into a communist country.
Mr. Song concealed 30 years of his membership in the Workers’ Party and filed a lawsuit in a Korean court against the former secretary of the Workers’ Party, Hwang Jang-yup, who disclosed his identity as an alternate member of the Politburo. Judging by this fact, who can say that he would not build a nest in his homeland and engage in projects to communize South Korea?
While disguising himself as a scholar who fought for democratization of South Korea, Mr. Song developed a critical theory that obscured South Koreans’ view on North Korea. That was the so-called inherent approach that criticism of the North must be based on the logic inherent to its system. The essence of the theory was to virtually block intellectuals from criticizing the North. North Korea is a one-man rule system of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il. It was his theory that stopped the criticism of that system.
With this theory alone, Mr. Song made a lasting contribution to the Workers’ Party. To someone who does not know his status as a secret party member and alternate member of the Politburo, his theory may seem to be an effort to unite the nation. It was indeed a laborious work that very successfully disrupted South Korea. With the theory, he returned Kim Il Sung’s favor, and served the party faithfully as a member. Even so, he said he had no sense of affiliation to the party.
Influential figures in our society, since they are more pro-North Korean, tend to make such statements. They often denounce critics of North Korea as hard-core adherents of old customs, conservative reactionaries, and advocates of the Cold War. Now we have to redefine terms about them.
It would be more correct to call them a pro-Kim Il Sung, pro-Kim Jong-il conservative force, not pro-North Korea. If they held a pro-North Korean position, they should have the same interest in the lives of 23 million fellow countrymen as they had in fighting Park Chung Hee’s military dictatorship. According to their rules, they should criticize and fight the human rights conditions of North Koreans and the rigidity of the North’s regime. We have seldom heard “pro-North Korean figures” making such criticisms. For this reason, they should be called pro-Kim Il Sung, pro-Kim Jong-il hard-core conservatives.
A model of the pro-Kim conservative forces is as follows. They do not criticize the North’s regime at all. While readily agreeing to the North’s criticism of the South, they use all sorts of negative terms, including hard-core adherents of old customs, to decry those who criticize North Korea. They talk about the nation at every opportunity but turn a blind eye to the miserable destiny of North Koreans. They heaped criticism on the conservatives under the Fifth and Sixth Republics as perpetuating national division, but since the 1990s they have virtually reversed direction to become anti-reunificationists, opposing reunification based on the absorption of North Korea.
As to pointing out the negative aspects of Kim Jong-il or the infringements on the human rights of North Koreans, they strongly argue that it is based on the Cold War ideology that disrupts national unity. When a case such as Mr. Song’s breaks out, they argue in a rage that the controversy over a person’s communist background should not paint everything red. They blame the United States as the main culprit of our national division, but rebut such issues as the North’s provocation of the Korean War or the bombing of a Korean Air airliner by rationalizing the cause of the war or claiming that the bombing was fabricated.
They severely question the belligerence of the United States about the North Korean nuclear problem, while taking an extremely lukewarm stance toward North Korea without urging it to give up its nuclear weapons. They were the first to advocate the repatriation of non-converted long-term prisoners but claim that we should not provoke North Korea with the request for the return of South Korean prisoners of war or with the investigation into the cash-for-summit scandal. Pro-Kim hard-core conservatives are thoroughly one-eyed. I truly hope that Mr. Song’s case will awaken at least some of them to open both eyes.

* The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Sioux Lee
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