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Bush Invites Chosun Ilbo Journalist, Escapee From North Korea, to White House

Bush Invites Chosun Ilbo Journalist, Escapee From North Korea, to White House

Posted June. 15, 2005 04:25,   


U.S. President George W. Bush invited Kang Cheol-hwan (37), who is a defector of North Korea and co-author of a book disclosing human rights conditions in North Korea, "The Aquariums of Pyongyang," to the White House on June 13 and had a conversation with him for 40 minutes.

On the occasion, Kang conveyed that President Bush said that "it is heartbreaking to see the North Korean people who suffer from economic pressure, especially those pregnant and young who starve."

He added that President Bush said that "I told President Roh Moo-hyun at the Korea-U.S. summit that the U.S. will provide the greatest amount of food and financial aid when more fundamental changes occur in North Korea."

Kang also said that President Bush asked back why the "Koreans are not outraged by Kim Jong Il`s infringements upon human rights."

Kang`s family had lived in Japan and moved to North Korea. There, Kang`s grandfather was accused of being a political criminal and was sent to the Yodeok camp. Kang spent a decade since he was nine years old at the camp. In 1992, he escaped the North and went to the South and graduated from Hanyang University.

The book "The Aquariums of Pyongyang" was published in France in 2000 after French journalist and historian Pierre Rigoulot read Kang`s book "The Great King`s Festivities," which he published in 1993, and wrote based on Kang`s book and statements. The English version was published the following year.

President Bush invited and conversed with ex-prisoner of a former U.S.S.R. prison and former Israelian Minister of Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky at the White House in November 2004 after reading his book, "The Case for Democracy."

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com