[EDITORIALS]Shameful silence on abductionRegarding the kidnapping of the Rev. Kim Dong-shik, who was taken from China to the North in 2000 by North Korean agents, 20 U.S. representatives from the state of Illinois have written to the North’s ambassador to the United Nations asking for a full resolution of the matter. They urged the immediate return of Mr. Kim if he is alive, and warned that the North would remain on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism if the issue is not properly addressed.
Comparing this to the actions of our own government, which has been idle about this case for five years, one feels only despair. The government has known about this crime for a long time. Recently, one of the Korean-Chinese abductors admitted to it in court. But all our government did was asking the Chinese government to reinvestigate. It took the U.S. congressmen only about a month to take action after hearing about it.
What makes us even more ashamed is the congressmen’s assertion that the issue was a grave one for Illinoisans because Mr. Kim’s family resides in the state. (Mr. Kim is a South Korean citizen who has the right of permanent residence in the United States.) While these U.S. representatives do their best for their constituents, our own government has stood by doing nothing. The people know why the current administration, and Kim Dae-jung’s previous one, have been silent on such issues. They have argued that provoking North Korea could cause inter-Korean relations to deteriorate.
It is true that we shouldn’t irritate the North unnecessarily. But we have to abandon the idea that our relationship with the North will improve if we dance to their tune. We didn’t provoke North Korea into kidnapping Mr. Kim, or into starting last year’s naval skirmishes on the Yellow Sea. The government has to remember that if it neglects the first duty of a government, which is to protect its citizens, it will lose its very reason to exist.
However belatedly, the government has to pursue every possible avenue to resolve this kidnapping case. It has to get North Korea to confirm whether or not Mr. Kim is alive, and if he is alive, it has to strongly ask for his return. What is there to be so afraid of that the government keeps its mouth shut? The government must also actively address this issue with the Chinese government, reminding it that the incident has damaged China’s sovereignty.