North Korea: The Real Way Out

“We are North Korean defectors who staked our lives to escape from Kim’s cruel dictatorship. We will cooperate with those who are of one mind with us wherever they may be, whether in the north, in the south, or in a foreign land. We will, to our utmost, expand the anti-Kim Jong Il force within North Korea and form a united front with those in North Korea.”


That statement above is an excerpt from a declaration released by a group of North Korean defectors last week, during what has become an annual event in Washington: North Korea Freedom Week. Organized by Suzanne Scholte of the Defense Forum Foundation, in coordination with other NGOs, church groups, and scores of others, including North Korean defectors who fly in from South Korea to speak out about the totalitarian state of Kim Jong Il, this is a gathering at which the moving message, again and again, is that the real answer to North Korea is not to pamper and appease the murderous missile-selling nuclear-happy tyrant, but to look for any way to advance the cause of freedom in the world’s most repressive state — and especially to help the refugees who try to escape. This can’t be said too often, so I have said it again in my column in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

There is plenty more to be said — but for the moment, just a quick quiz. We know that hundreds of thousands have tried to escape North Korea, fleeing into China. We know that most are desperate, often ill, hungry, and in some cases starving. We know that if they get sent back to North Korea, they can end up in labor camps where people are starved and worked to death, and that some would-be defectors have been executed in public, as a deterrent to others. So, knowing all that, where has the world — or for that matter the well-heeled UN High Commissioner for Refugees — provided refugee camps to which North Koreans who risk their lives to cross the border can go for safe haven:


A) There are no refugee camps

B) There are no refugee camps

C) There are no refugee camps

 D) All of the above

Yep. Whatever you picked, you got it right.


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