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  Global Views
N. Korean Sympathizers Sinister not Foolish
Special Contribution
By Tom Pauken II
Former S. Korean President Kim Dae-jung

The voice of reason doesn't always hold sway for some individuals. A few American conspiracy theorists believe US President George W. Bush planned the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11. Some think former dictators Hitler, Stalin of Russia and Chairman Mao of China tried to establish a New World Order of peace and harmony even though they were responsible for millions of people's deaths.

They seem odd but the world has little to fear. Those who hold these views are outsiders on the fringes of society. They play an insignificant role in governmental affairs. But not all ideologues of political extremism are outcasts.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il isn't a popular figure outside his country. His regime imprisons, tortures and executes N. Koreans who don't support his policies. Millions are starving because his Marxist economic principles led his country down the path of destruction. He runs a military state and often threaten war against the US, Japan and S. Korea.

He launched ballistic missiles into the sea and conducted an underground nuclear test in clear opposition to the international community including his closest allies China and Russia. If N. Korea does invade any country it would probably be S. Korea because they massed about 700,000 soldiers on their border. So, S. Koreans should fear Kim Jong-il most of all.

Nonetheless some of Kim Jong-il's strongest supporters live in the South. After N. Korea's nuclear test former S. Korean president Kim Dae-jung didn't criticize Kim Jong-il instead he gave a speech in Gwangju on Oct. 11 and blamed President Bush for the crises.

When Kim Dae-jung was president he initiated the Sunshine Policy. The government opposed regime change and provided the North with generous subsidies totaling billions of dollars. During an inter-Korean summit on June 15 he praised Kim Jong-il as a great leader. On the same day, he arranged for Hyundai-Asan group to bank wire $450 million into Kim jong-il's personal account.

Kim Dae-jung persuaded Hyundai-Asan to invest another billion dollars into other projects. They funded scenic tours to Mt. Geumgang, N. Korea and built factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North. Yet, Hyundai-Asan hasn't reported a profit because they gave much of their proceeds to the N. Korean government.

N. Korea received much from S. Korea but their lives haven't improved. Millions of N. Koreans remain starving while thousands of them escape into China so they could eat. But, S. Korea's Unifications Lee Jong-seok has overlooked these incidents. He remarked, "At least since 2000 when we began providing assistance to the North, no one there has been starving to death." One wonders if he ever spoke to a refugee and asked about food shortages and why that person fled the country.

Lee Jong-seok has become the poster boy for N. Korean sympathizers. After N. Korea announced they would conduct a nuclear test he gave orders to ship thousands of tons of cement mixer to the North, supposedly for humanitarian reasons. Actually, cement mixer can help seal underground tunnels for an underground nuclear test to occur.

When N. Korea launched ballistic missiles he requested a summit between so they could discuss inter-Korean economic projects. He continues to promote these projects after N. Korea conducted their nuclear tests.

Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok has a history of pro-North Korean views. He's written academic papers supportive of the regime. Accordingly, he's got a strong following with professors and students. At universities in Korea they tend towards pro-North Korean and anti-Americanism. Walking around campuses it's not unusual to see posters denouncing President Bush but it is rare to find posters denouncing Kim Jong-il.

S. Korean apathy is another example of how N. Korean sympathizers gained a stronger foothold in the nation. Yes, the international media shows anti-Kim Jong-il demonstrations but they represent a small segment of society. Many Koreans are leading their lives as if nothing terrible happened.

People from all over the world perceive Kim Jong-il as a villian who might start World War III and a gross violator of human rights. They think coddling the North won't convince them to abandon their nuclear weapons program. They believe sanctions if not military action is the appropriate response. But N. Korean sympathizers in S. Korea think otherwise.

What if N. Korea invaded S. Korea with their million-man army? What if N. Korea puts Seoul under a sea of fire? What if N. Korea dropped a bomb on the South? Would these same pro-North Korean ideologues continue their love affair with Kim Jong-il?




Mr. Tom Pauken II serves as volunteer contributor for The Seoul Times. A major of political science at Thomas More College in New Hampshire has been writing about his political views on the Asia Pacific region. He taught English in South Korea.

 

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