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[Opinion] Mask Testimony

Posted May. 22, 2003 22:03,   


In mid April, a group of heavily armed Australian policemen were conducting an undercover operation near the southwest coast. The sea was pitch dark and was roaring as a storm hit the coast. Then vague shape of a vessel appeared afar. After some time, a rubber boat began to sail toward the coast. One sailor submerged under the water after struggling with high waves, but the police force did not even budge. A man barely managed to land ashore with a big box in the boat. Still, the force was waiting. Then, two men appeared and approached towards the man.

The Washington Post described how the Australian police caught the North Korean ship Bongsu at the sight of drug trafficking. They nabbed three men with the box and seized the 4,000 tonne-scale ship after four-day chase at the sea. They rounded up 30 North Korean sailors with 50kg of heroine. It is an outcome of a month-long secret operation conducted by Australians. And the Australian press disclosed a surprising story that one of the arrested North Koreans is an attach working for the North Korean Embassy to China.

Although the investigation into the seized ship was still under way, Australia wasted no time to launch a naval operation jointly with the U.S. and Japan. Prime Minister John Howard flew over to Washington right away in the first week of May to report to Gorge W. Bush about its successful operation and give some useful information about the ship. Then, Australia held minister-level talks with Japan last week. Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro will meet Bush tomorrow. It is not a mere coincidence that North Korean nuclear program and drug trafficking became a key agenda in both U.S.-Aussie and U.S.-Japan talks. Bush, on its part, invited the Japanese and Aussie leaders to his cozy Crawford Ranch in Texan in a friendly gesture.

Two North Korean defectors also disclosed useful information for the Bush Administration at a U.S. Senate hearing three days ago. The two men testified behind a screen wearing masks. Masked witnesses were often seen at testimonies against some militia groups in Latin America. And the appearance of North Korean defectors wearing masks indicates that crimes organized by the North Korean government parallel to those by leftist militia groups. When former president Kim was in office, it was even speculated that the government kept it secret that it found North Korean drug under circulation. Behind the masks worn by the two North Koreans, there must be secrets of the government`s dubious North Korean policy as well as North Korean organized crimes.

Bang Hyung-nam, Editorial Writer, hnbhang@donga.com