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[Editorial] Accepting North Korean Defectors is “Act of Abduction and Terror?”

[Editorial] Accepting North Korean Defectors is “Act of Abduction and Terror?”

Posted July. 29, 2004 22:13,   


North Korea is strongly condemning the South Korean government, groundlessly claiming that the recent large-scale arrival of North Korean defectors was “an organized and intentional abduction and a terror crime in broad daylight.” The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the North’s agency dealing with affairs involving the South, even threatened, “The crimes of South Korean authorities will not go unnoticed, and they will pay a just price.”

Such an attitude is unacceptable. How can embracing North Korean defectors, who are going through hardships while roaming foreign countries, in compatriotism, be defined as abduction and a terror act? The whole world is aware that the South Korean government embraced the 400 defectors who reached a Southeast Asian nation through China, suffering many hardships, for humanitarian reasons. North Korea’s view of the world and its level of awareness, which turns a blind eye on the obvious truth, are deplorable.

If it is discomforted by the exposure of its shortcomings, North Korea should strive to mend its ways. Before blaming others, North Korea should remember that it is the duty of a nation and its leader to endeavor to build a nation where nationals can live comfortably. Now is not the time to twist facts and express imprudent hostility. What does the North hope to earn by insisting that a humanitarian act is a crime and by threatening the South?

The South Korean government, which worked hard to bring back the defectors carefully in order not to provoke the North, ended up being denounced by North Korea. However, Seoul only countered the accusations with a verbal comment, citing, “The assertions are not true.” The South Korean authorities should rebut the accusations in a more official manner, especially when the North is distorting the truth and plainly threatening the South through statements. It is frustrating to think that “quiet diplomacy” includes not even being able to provide appropriate responses to the North.

The South Korean government should not be so conscious of the inter-Korean ministerial meetings scheduled for next week. North Korea did not consent to two working-level talks in scheduling the meeting. With its hostile statement, it is highly unlikely that the North will participate in the conference itself. Even if the two Koreas were to sit down together to talk, it is difficult to hope there will be any significant progress in discussions with the North in its current state. It is right to wait until the North cools down and is ready to look reality in the eye.