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N. Korea`s killing of 3 would-be defectors

Posted January. 04, 2012 00:06,   


The shooting of North Koreans who attempted to flee the Stalinist country Saturday shows the bitter reality after Kim Jong Un took control of the communist country. North Korean soldiers opened fire at three 40-something men who tried to cross the Yalu River near Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, to flee to China. The three who were desperately running away on the frozen river were shot dead. Their crime? Being born in a brutal totalitarian country. The inhumane North Korean government is calling its South Korean counterpart an “immoral” group, an absolutely preposterous act.

The shooting came the day after Kim was named supreme commander of the North Korean People`s Army. News of the incident spread to nearby regions. Do Hee-yoon, head of the Citizens Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees, confirmed the deaths of the three North Koreans via a Chinese source. Do said, “It seems that the North intentionally spread the news to create an atmosphere of terror among its people.” North Korean soldiers have also begun planting mines to prevent people from escaping. Kim Seong-min, president of the Seoul-based Free North Korea Radio, said a North Korean battalion deployed in Musan in the North`s Hamgyong Province set landmines extensively in border areas near the Tumen River Monday.

North Korea stepped up its crackdown on defectors from the latter half of last year. When nine North Koreans fled to South Korea aboard a small boat in June last year, Kim Jong Un ordered his armed forces to shoot to kill when spotting people trying to escape. After the death of leader Kim Jong Il last month, Pyongyang further toughened punishment by ordering the deaths of not just the defectors but also their relatives. Such a threat will discourage North Koreans from trying to flee via the Tumen and Yalu rivers for the time being, but cannot suppress their desire to live as human beings.

North Korea says it is conducting “generous politics” by citing the signing of the 2005 joint agreement on the scrapping of its nuclear weapons at the six-party talks and its admission of having kidnapped Japanese people. The politics that Kim Jong Il and his son have or will conduct is “lunatic and violent politics” merely aimed at securing their safety through terror. The world as well as South Korea should be reminded that helping North Korea stabilize its hereditary totalitarian system is tantamount to raising fears of the 24 million North Koreans. The North should not remain in darkness at a time when the rest of the world is basking in the sunshine of freedom and democracy.

Editorial Writer Bhang Hyeong-nam (hnbhang@donga.com)