Saturday, September 18, 2004

Behind the Iron Curtain

A rare look into North Korean life was recently revealed by a BBC correspondent during British Foreign Minister's historic visit behind the DMZ. He describes a nation under communist rule, with a lifestyle so foreign and so forgotten by the rest of the world it probably belongs in a museum. People there are clearly suffering; with all the strides the government made to put up a facade of prosperity it was all to evident that there has been little change in the standard of living since the fall of the Soviet Union. The ease with which North Korea's leaders chuckle at reports of human labour camps is perhaps what is most disheartening.
When Britain's minister challenged his North Korean counterparts, they laughed off terrible torture allegations, but they did concede that forced labour is an integral part of what they call "rehabilitation".


Anonymous said...

Do the Nth Koreans auction off their 'forced labour' to the highest bidder? Are the chain gangs that still exist in parts of the US not 'forced labour'? Does the US gaol non-violent offenders for so called drug crimes? Did these so called 'crimes' exist before the laws were lobbied for by the paper, cotton, and oil industries?

Maybe the US should try removing the log from its eye before worrying about the splinter in North Koreas.

Stephen J. Weinstein said...

There is great disparity in your comparison of the United States to North Korea. Unfortunately there are regions of the United States that have 'forced labour,' but even the cruelty in these regions does not compare to the common atrocity ever prevalent in NK. And where are the domestic human rights groups that are free to protest their government's actions in North Korea? In the United States we live in a democracy that has the ability to self-correct. Their government is endowed with no such benefit. There will always be problems both at home and abroad, a policy that contends we should only deal with foreign matters once all domestic problems have been solved is a policy that is likely to appease ruthless dictators.

Additionally, in this ever more globalized world, we too are forced to claim shared ownership of the ailments of others. The effects of condoning the dehumanization of citizens sets a dangerous precedent that other oppressive governments are sure to follow if violations are not checked.

Drug crimes are crimes, they cannot, should, and are not tolerated. For a number of reasons there is a growing movement among the far-left of liberal parties (even among Democrats in the United States) to decriminalize drugs. The implications of such a destructive action would be destructively far reaching in our community, our schools, and our families. The point is mute.