The Small Candles for North Korean Defectors at the White House Dinner Party

GRACE KIM

One page of the repatriated defectors' names that was read at the vigil.

The North Korea Freedom Coalition’s Chairwoman Suzanne Scholte organized a vigil for the repatriated North Korean defectors in China this past January. In front of the White House, I stood among what seemed to be a small and quiet group in comparison to the Free Tibet demonstrators who were standing a few yards from us. I could not help but think that the ratio of demonstrators between the two causes, not that they’re in competition with one another, reflected the levels of awareness the American public has about the human rights violations against Tibetans and those against North Koreans. Nevertheless, no matter the number, we had gathered to voice our solidarity with and the hope we have for the North Korean defectors.

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What do you think of North Korea?

CHRISTINE LEE

During my time as a Yonsei student, I had the opportunity to ask some of my peers about what they thought of North Korea. This was before the Yeonpyeong incident. I was curious because I didn’t know that much about North Korea myself until college, even though I have relatives from there. And concerning unification issues… it wasn’t until recently that I began to realize this is something South Korea does need to be ready for—whether it takes ten years or ten decades, the possibility of a reunification (like East Germany and West Germany’s on October 3, 1990 after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989) happening to North and South Korea is always there. Continue reading

The North Korea Card: How will Hu & Obama deal?

GRACE KIM

Early Thoughts…

My Google Alerts has been emailing notifications to my blackberry nonstop with news on Kim Jong Un’s lavish birthday celebrations and more importantly, President Hu Jintao visiting President Barack Obama in Washington next Wednesday, January 19, 2011. Hu’s visit bears much significance on the U.S. – China relationship. Foreign policy experts have their fingers crossed hoping that this visit will appease the hostility between the two after conflicting interests in a number of issues including: exchange-rate policy, Internet censorship-Google, human rights, environment concerns, and North Korea’s deadly attacks on Yeonpyeong, South Korea. With grave economic issues and Chinese militaristic growth hovering over the discussion table will enough time be allotted to resolve stances regarding how to deal with the unruly North Korea?

Nuclear stability concerns will most definitely be raised as China prioritizes softening U.S. & South Korean response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But what about the thousands of defectors who lead perilous lives fearing repatriotization? Will the rampant poverty rates and unimaginable human rights violations in North Korea even be mentioned during this rendezvous?

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