[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Telling truths in the North

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[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Telling truths in the North

With the legislative elections as a backdrop, it is timely indeed, if not confirming, to hear Mr. Lee Dong-bok voicing his strong comments about basic freedoms and human rights (“Win a friend, lose freedoms” April 13). For decades, North Korea has demanded that others leave it alone, and yet has never seen fit to return the favor.
In the words of Philip Gourevitch, a writer for the The New Yorker magazine, “Never has such a small, economically weak state succeeded in making such a big deal of itself for so long.”
I am not a Korean. I am from Canada, a new country. We do not have the long and honored traditions that all Koreans share, but we all have ancestors. And most of us have learned from them. One of the most important gifts our family can give us is the integrity to “do the right thing.”
A year ago, the UN Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution calling on Pyeongyang to give access to international investigations to follow up reports of systematic abuse in North Korea. South Korea sat on the commission, but it did not show up.
We, and by this I mean the entire International community, should do everything we can now to ease the suffering of the North Korean people, because that is the right thing to do, and because we will want to have something to say to future generations who ask of us “what did you do when you learned of the horrors North Koreans endured?”
By even suggesting to “strictly censure” the Unification Ministry official who made an offhanded remark, in order to abate and appease “the great commander sent from heaven” or as it is written, “a man born an outcast,” the entire Korean Peninsula may be at even greater risk of losing its basic freedoms and human rights than it could ever dream.

by T.M. Luker
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