Wednesday, August 05, 2009

On the Release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee

I am happy to see Laura and Euna back home with their families in America. I penned a piece a few weeks back condemning the commentators who were quick to condemn their efforts to expose the North Korean regime's vile treatment of its own people, and ended up imprisoned for it. I have no respect for the North Korean regime and a single one of its laws. It is an illegitimate state, and we should always frame these issues in that context, and make no apologies for it.

On the other hand, I have hated the media coverage surrounding this whole event, which has completely left out the reason these women were in Korea to begin with. All we have now is glowing adulations for Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and this bizarre belief that the release of these journalists by the Kim regime represents some kind of diplomatic breakthrough. USA Today published a story with the following lustrous headline.

Korea Trip May Smooth Relations.”

Spare me such nonsense. Kim is smiling in the picture above because he got what he wanted: a popular ex-president (who never met with his regime in person during his presidency) coming to him, handling him like the significant “leader” he believes himself to be.

John Bolton, who is more derisive of Clinton’s visit than I am, makes it clear that his visit may hurt our diplomatic efforts in Korea. He writes:
The Clinton visit may have many other negative effects. In some ways the trip is a flashback to the unfortunate 1994 journey of former president Jimmy Carter, who disrupted the Clinton administration's nuclear negotiations with North Korea and led directly to the misbegotten "Agreed Framework." By supplying both political legitimacy and tangible economic resources to Pyongyang, the Agreed Framework provided the North and other rogue states a roadmap for maximizing the benefits of illicit nuclear programs. North Korea violated the framework almost from the outset but nonetheless enticed the Bush administration into negotiations (the six-party talks) to discuss yet again ending its nuclear program in exchange for even more political and economic benefits. This history is of the United States rewarding dangerous and unacceptable behavior, a lesson well learned by other would-be nuclear proliferators.”

Ling and Lee’s press conference, and their overly self righteous comments, was also too much to take. Joshua at One Free Korea, again in top form, preemptively takes some of the themes around this case to task.
Please spare us the Stockholm Syndrome at LAX. Try to remember that you weren’t in North Korea to rob convenience stores, hide a dead hooker, or hand out boxer briefs infected with herpes. If things were so wonderful at that cushy non-gulag guesthouse where you were held — unlike conditions for those North Koreans who offend His Withering Majesty — then go back. This is not a misunderstood state that eventually made contact with its inner goodness by freeing you. It’s a place that starves, terrorizes, tortures, and murders millions of non-famous North Koreans, including potentially everyone whose face appears in the video the North Koreans say they seized from you.

When you emerge, remember why you were there. You were there to tell the story of desperate people like this woman and tens of thousands more like her who will remain forgotten, unmourned, and unmentioned in all of the glowing, shallow, stupid press coverage that will soon follow. They won’t be objects of hope for the great, false diplomatic breakthrough that your release from unjust imprisonment represents to unintelligent people of every race, color, creed, and political persuasion. You can make those people minimally less unintelligent by taking a moment out of the first act of your book tour to remember the refugees and those who are dying in the real gulags
Again, I am happy to see them released, but let’s stop with the nonsense and charades. The Kim regime is not turing the page on its murderous past. Ling and Lee may be free, but millions of Koreans are still slaves to the world’s worst regime.


Drop Out Coward said...

I'm just glad that Clinton took the limelight away from Obama, and if that wasn't enough, he did it on his birthday. Anything that hurts Obams's ego is a noble cause, as far as I'm concerned. And being reminded that our former presidents took the job not only to satisfy their ego, is a breath of fresh air in such asphyxiated era.

Dandy said...

I’m sure you heard that these women have admitted to walking into North Korea, probably getting all their Korean aids and fellow travelers killed in the process. They will still be treated like heroes in America.