From today’s Korea Times, an article titled “Civic Groups Split on Condolences“:
Civic groups and bloggers are divided over whether to offer condolences on the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Liberal groups claim it is necessary to express sympathy for humanitarian reasons, with some already announcing their own messages of condolences, while conservative groups claim it is nonsense to sympathize with the death of a dictator who killed thousands of his people.
As the government tendered sympathy to the North Korean people Tuesday, progressive groups generally welcomed the move.
Peace Network said in a statement; “Controlling the situation on the Korean Peninsula stably and ensuring peace will benefit all countries including the two Koreas and the United States.”
The nation’s two umbrella labor unions, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, sent telegrams of condolence to their North Korean counterpart.
Yes, “Peace Network” and the trade unions, engaged in “smart diplomacy.” If only Kim had lived long enough for them to release a statement with just the exact right wording to melt his totalitarian heart.
So what do the South Korean conservatives think?
Conservative groups, however, not only oppose sending condolences but also welcomed Kim’s death.
Some 150 members of six conservative civic groups said in a press briefing that Dec. 19 will be the first day of a new Korea.
“As human beings, we may have to express sympathy over a person’s death. But we won’t. How many people have to die in pain because of Kim Jong-il? During the time of the Arduous March, millions of North Korean people died. As a leader of a state, he committed countless crimes against the North, the South and the world,” they said in a statement.
“South Korea’s No. 1 enemy is dead, and it is absurd that the government expresses sympathy. If anybody wanting to visit the North to offer condolence, we’ll fight to stop them,” they said.
Another group, Right Korea, said, “The death of dictator Kim, who suppressed his people and starved millions of them to death, is nothing to be mourned. Most South Koreans welcome his death, regarding it as a signal for North Korea’s democratization.”
Conservative critic Cho Gab-je said, “The government should not tender condolences. It is a lasting regret that we ourselves couldn’t get rid of the slaughterer.”
Yes, I am requesting Cho Gab-je post at the Tatler, in case you’d like to hear more from him.