[EDITORIALS]Uneasy parallelsAn Internet radio broadcasting station of North Korean defectors, “Free North Korea Network,” is on the verge of stopping broadcasts due to various threats it has suffered from since its inauguration less than a month ago. The Institute of North Korea Studies that provided an office for the broadcaster has recently asked it to vacate the office. The institute explained, “Since the station started broadcasting, many people visited the institute in groups to protest its broadcasts violently and telephone calls threatening bombing and terror attacks were received often. We had no other choice but to ask the station to leave the building.” In a country under free democracy, how can such an absurd incident take place? And yet there is not a single word heard from the authorities concerned. Who will defend the North Korean defectors, whose freedom is exposed to violent threats?
What are the basic principles of free democracy? A free democratic system respects the variety of opinion and declines to follow unilateralism. The reason for guaranteeing the freedom of the press and thoughts is to solidify the democratic principles.
An atmosphere has been created in our society in which, if someone criticizes the North Korean system, the person is considered to be committing a serious crime. In inter-Korean relations, there is actually the duplicity of “confrontation amid cooperation.” Therefore, it is not right to criticize the North blindly out of rightist ideas, nor to respect it as if it were a sanctuary. As we criticize irregularities in the South, we can talk about unreasonable things in the North Korean system. The defectors are trying to inform us about the realities of the miserable human rights situation inside North Korea.
The seriousness of this incident is that the freedom of the press and thoughts are threatened. The head of the station received a call: “Be careful traitor! We will not leave you intact.” To a defectors’ organization, a dead mouse was delivered. The group behind it is not yet known, but we can speculate that it might be a pro-North Korean organization. While keeping silence on the North Korean broadcast aimed at residents in the South, if a broadcast station airing programs to the northern residents is oppressed like this, we cannot say South Korea is a free country. The authorities must arrest the culprits.