Why the Messages to North Korea Must Continue
There has been much controversy about the recent pronouncements against activist groups launching balloons that carry leaflets over to North Korea. The South Korea government is under enormous pressure from the North Korean regime to intervene and stop these launches. There has been a steady stream of angry declarations and threats from North Korea, starting with a threat to shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, cut off all ties with South Korea, and turn South Korea into debris.
These declarations are just more evidence of how critically important these messages from the free world are in reaching out to the North Korean people. Today, it is perhaps more important than ever that these launches continue because of the declining health of Kim Jong-il and the uncertainty clouding his succession. Now, more than ever before, the North Korean people need to know the truth: that South Koreans and Americans are their friends, who have been trying for decades to save them from starvation and to pressure their dictator to reform his regime. The North Korean people need to know, now more than ever before, that South Koreans and Americans are not their greatest enemies, but that their true enemy is Kim Jong-il, and the greatest threat the North Korean people face is not from those of us living in the free world, but from their dear leader who is universally loathed and considered one of the worst dictators in modern history.
The South Korean government must resist the pressure and threats from the North Korean regime and stand in solidarity with those who are sending the balloons. With the election of President Lee Myung-bak, South Korea finally has a leader who cares about the suffering North Korean people, who have had no one to represent them at the six-party talks or the North-South summits as all agreements have been focused on Kim Jong-il's nuclear threats. It is long overdue for someone in a position of authority in South Korea to act in the best interest of the North Korean people for a change, rather than the best interest of Kim Jong-il, as was clearly the policy of Lee's predecessors Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-hyun.
Remember that these balloon launches were sponsored by the South Korean government before Kim ushered in the Sunshine Policy. It brought no sunshine to North Korea, just prolonged agony, suffering, darkness and death. Furthermore, these balloon launches are important because we know that due to a lack of electricity there are whole sections of North Korea that can only be reached with these messages.
While I continue to be a huge supporter and advocate of Radio Free North Korea and all those who are broadcasting into North Korea, we also need to reach out to those who have no access to this medium. Just last month I interviewed several North Korean women who had never had the opportunity to tune into outside radio or television programs, but who knew and had seen the pamphlets. One woman who lived just north of the DMZ told me she hoped the South Korean people would continue to send them, but she told me, "Please say in the messages that the food that they are sending with the leaflets is not poisoned, because the North Korean regime has told us if we eat the food our skin will fall off and we will die."
The most important thing to remember is what these leaflets being sent into North Korea are all about. Park Sang-hak and the Fighters for a Free North Korea are sending in messages of true history and true facts about Kim Jong-il, along with money to help North Koreans survive. There is nothing more powerful than North Koreans living in freedom reaching out with the truth to their brothers and sisters living in enslavement. Other NGOs are sending in pamphlets with messages of hope to their loved ones, specifically those abducted to North Korea, while Christian NGOs are sending in messages of love and forgiveness about Jesus Christ and a loving God, while pointing out that Kim Jong-il is no god.
Why has North Korea reacted so vehemently to these launches? Because Kim Jong-il ironically seems to understand something that we in the free world are sadly forgetting: that the truth shall set you free. His regime relies on propaganda and isolation to keep the North Korean people literally in the dark about the prosperity in South Korea, brought about through capitalism, and freedom and respect for human rights, all concepts that are a deadly threat to Kim's dictatorship. He furthermore cannot have NGOs pointing out that there is a God who loves, redeems, forgives, and frees because Kim is no god, but a dictator who hates, condemns, enslaves and kills.
At this time of great uncertainty, we must ask ourselves on whose side we want to stand: those who reach out with concern to the North Korean people with messages of truth, hope, and love, or do we want to stand on the side of Kim Jong-il, the man responsible for genocide against the people of North Korea. Now is the time to choose your side and take a stand.
This column was contributed by Suzanne Scholte, president of the conservative Defense Forum Foundation of the U.S.
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