Are defectors ‘traitors’?

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Are defectors ‘traitors’?

Rough words by Lim Soo-kyung, a female pro-North Korean student activist in the 1980s and now a proportional representative of the Democratic United Party, has created a sensation. Her below-the-belt remarks to a North Korean defector - now a university student in Seoul - is a clear testament to her twisted views on the state of human rights in the reclusive country.

According to the North Korean student who happened to meet Representative Lim in a restaurant last Friday, Lim began to lash out at him when he told her that a waiter had deleted photos taken with Lim from his cell phone, as ordered by Lim’s aides. (See story on Page One.) Lim allegedly responded to the defector by saying, “You are doing the weird things, dubbed a fight for North Korean human rights, with Ha Tae-keung, right? Ha is a son of a bitch betrayer and I will kill him with my hand .?.?.” Ha is the president of Open Radio for North Korea, who became a lawmaker for the ruling Saenuri Party in the last April legislative election.

When the defector rebutted Lim’s violent language by saying, “Who betrayed whom? Do you mean Representative Ha and us, North Korean defectors, betrayed the murderer Kim Il Sung [founder of North Korea], whom you called ‘your father’?”

Lim reportedly kept shouting, “You stupid turncoats!”

It defies our understanding that Lim called Representative Ha, who has been diligently campaigning for North Korean human rights together with a number of defectors, a “turncoat” in a manifestation of allegiance to the Pyongyang regime. Moreover, making verbal attacks on defectors shows she lacks a basic sense of human rights. We cannot but laugh at the infantile threat hurled at a defector-turned-student as if the post of legislator is the source of an immense power.

Lim later explained on her Twitter feed that she just was just trying to scold a student who went too far. She also later apologized. But that is not enough. Lim was imprisoned for three years and five months for violating National Security Law after visiting North Korea for 46 days in 1989 without government permission. We believed her entry into the National Assembly would help revitalize discussions on unification. But the latest episode forces us to question her qualifications to discuss the issue on behalf of the voters. Lim should apologize both to the public and defectors from the North. The DUP must also make public its position on her out-of-bounds, profane remarks.
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