Friday, May 7, 2010

There Are Good Ways to Fight, and...

According to an assembled group of North Korean defectors, Kim Jong Il is unquestionably to blame for the Cheonan sinking;

Defector NGOs gathered their members in front of the South Korean Ministry of National Defense on Friday morning to assert with one voice that the Cheonan tragedy was the work of North Korea.

The NGOs made a joint statement at the protest, “Kim Jong Il, Do Not Behave So Outrageously!” Reading the statement, Kim Young Soon of the Committee for Democratization of North Korea and herself a former Yoduk Camp prisoner said, “We know intuitively that it was a cruel act by Kim Jong Il,” adding, “Is there anyone who would carry out such a dirty move besides Kim Jong Il?”

In the joint statement, she explained what leading defectors believe were the causes of the Cheonan incident, “As the people got angrier about the failed currency redenomination, Kim Jong Il tried to create fear of war among the people, thus strengthening his control.”

The defectors additionally pointed the finger at pro-North Korean activists in the South, asserting that they share responsibility “for the victims of the Cheonan and the starvation of millions of people.”

Park Sang Hak, president of the Free North Korea Movement, said, “From May 10th, we will send balloons to North Korea containing leaflets entitled, ‘Warriors of the Cheonan, South Korea Will Avenge You!’ If the direction of the wind is right, we will send balloons every day.”

Other participating defector organizations at the event were the Committee for Democratization of North Korea, Free North Korea Broadcasting, Democracy Network against North Korean Gulag, North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, and North Korea Reform Broadcasting.

It seems fair to say that the majority of people are now prepared to lay the blame for the sinking at North Korea's door, with the exception of Kim Jong Il's tragi-comic pseudo-academic mouthpiece Kim Myong Chol, who recently spent a goodly amount of time trying to pursuade the readers of this Asia Times piece that the Cheonan was sunk by American friendly fire.

It is also fair to say that South Korea, with or without the cooperation of the international community, is within its rights to put in place whatever countermeasures it sees fit in response to this criminal act.

It is also fair to say that the sending of leaflets into North Korea is a justifiable activity. Whether or not it has any great effect on the North Korean people is a different story; one presumes that soldiers guarding the border regions are affected by it on some level, but one also suspects there are more effective outlets for the time and effort of anti-Kim Jong Il groups overall.

In any case, none of that is the issue. What is the issue is the sending of a leaflet proclaiming, "Warriors of the Cheonan, South Korea Will Avenge You!"

What possible benefit could such a confrontational title hope to have? The average North Korean, who has precisely no influence over the activities of his or her government, and who is only fractionally likely to know anything about the Cheonan sinking in any case, and who, if he or she knows anything at all, is likely to have heard that it was heroic revenge for the damage to a North Korean naval vessel in the Battle of Daecheong last November, picks up the leaflet... and?

There is so much of importance that could be contained in these leaflets, so I hope that behind such a confrontational headline there are some very carefully contemplated contents.

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