Tag Archives: rok

South Korean Neocon

Kim Moon-Soo: The Making and Re-Making of a Radical Thinker, Part I,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 13 August 2005, http://freekorea.blogspot.com/2005/08/kim-moon-soo-making-and-re-making-of.html.

From a fantastic post on One Free Korea

Kim Moon-Soo is the man who may yet break the drought that has fallen on the bleak political landscape of South Korea, one that for too long seemed to have been divided between opportunistic appeasers and opportunistic reactionaries, each with its own dubious connections to Korean dictatorships that the nation’s history will not view kindly. Charismatic, fiery, and proficient in the use of new media, Kim has emerged as the standard-bearer of the New Right, a new political grouping largely formed from former leftists and labor leaders who fought South Korea’s dictatorship of the past and North Korea’s dictatorship of the present.

Like its neoconservative counterpart in the United States, Korea’s New Right is idealistic and intellectual, retaining its liberal values despite rejecting some of the solutions most commonly associated with them. Their Internet magazines, such as DailyNK, fill a role similar to that of publications like The Weekly Standard in the United States (full disclosure–the DailyNK prints my screeds).

Kim’s biography is that of the New Right itself: a former student radical, labor organizer, and political prisoner, Kim emerged from prison to a democratic South Korea, joined the Grand National Party, converted to Christianity, and now seeks to unite both Koreas under democracy while keeping Korea out of the Chinese orbit. Beyond his persuasive skills, Kim’s life story speaks of a deep character, a powerful intellect, an occasionally explosive temper, and a profound attachment to ideas rather than an allegiance to ideology. Kim is no ordinary shop-floor demagogue. The man is also capable of serious thought on matters of statecraft.

This week, Kim introduced South Korea’s counterpart to the North Korean Human Rights Act in the National Assembly. It is the latest in a series of provocative jabs at the governments of North Korea and China, and follows a lifetime of confronting authoritarian regimes.

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South Korean Repression

‘Quiet Diplomacy’ Update,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 29 March 2005, http://freekorea.blogspot.com/2005/03/quiet-diplomacy-update_29.html.

South Korea believes in One Korea, Free From Foreigners. They have realigned as a friend of Pyongyang.

They are against freedom. It is very hard to see the silver lining in this cloud.

[D]ue to intense though indirect pressure by Seoul officials, the North Korean execution tapes, purportedly of “middlemen” who help refugees escape to China, are not yet available for viewing by Koreans in the South. The indirect censure adds to frustration among those documenting the gulags and torture in the North. They charge indifference in the South to evidence of manifold suffering by ethnic siblings across the demilitarized zone.

What is so worrying about this is Seoul’s backsliding. They are becoming less internationalist and less free with every news story. China, Vietnam, and Cambodia are all getting better. South Korea is getting worse.

South Korea is not our enemy. They are a more-or-less free society that is heavily integrated into the world economy. But they are not a friend like Britain, India, and Japan. They are not allies.

South Korean policy appears to be a separate peace with that tailbone of the Cold War, North Korea. If they are strong enough to make peace on their own, then they are strong enough to defend themselves on their own.

United States Forces Korea has served its purpose. Bring them home.

The Monsters (2)

Japan to Suspend Aid to North Korea,” Digital Chosunilbo, 9 December 2004, http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200412/200412090050.html.

Developments and fallout on the previous post.

Daily Chosunibo has a different take on North Korea’s new criminal law

N.K.’s Revision of Criminal Law Reflects Instability

North Korea amended its Criminal Law in April by reinforcing penalties for acts that threaten to undermine the regime and incorporating a horde of new articles to regulate new crimes, hinting at immense change that the regime is struggling to control.

The revision reflects greater change in the reclusive state than was previously imagined, suggesting that people’s lifestyles, ways of thinking and the speed with which information is circulated are all transforming rapidly.

With no sign of improvement in the North’s escalating financial and food crises, the populace has to find extra-judicial ways of surviving. A collapsing system of food rationing has led to the rampant spread of illegal money-making enterprises, with 80-90 percent of the population making forays into the black market to support themselves. As a result, the new Criminal Law attempts to impose greater state control of the populace.

If this is true, it is great. One reason for making laws more severe is that chaos is growing. Beware of wishful thinking, but if up to 90% of North Koreans are economic criminals, we are seeing a stalinist state in dire decline.

In the same paper,

Japan to Suspend Aid to North Korea
The Japanese government has suspended its plan to ship 125,000 tons of food aid and US$3 million (W3.17 billion) in medicine to North Korea after DNA tests revealed the remains of a Japanese kidnap victim turned over by Pyongyang were false.

Asia Times elaborates

A week ago, sanctions seemed highly improbable, now they seem like a real possibility. This is a development that is worrying for the leadership in both countries, and alarmingly, neither is fully in charge of the forces driving the debate.

If Japan can help collapse North Korea, it marks the return of the Land of the Rising Sun as a real player in the region. Go get ’em, Nihon!