2003 May 27 Tuesday
North Korean Defector Hwang Jang-yop Allowed Out Of South Korea

Former North Korean party ideologue Hwang Jang-yop defected from North Korean in 1997. Only now has the South Korean government finally agreed to allow him to visit the United States.

Shin Young-jin, an aide to Hwang, yesterday told cable news channel YTN that the government granted Hwang permission to take the trip, which will likely start June 15.

South Korea's government under Kim Dae Jung denied him permission to travel to the United States most likely because they didn't want him saying things in the United States that would upset the North Korean regime.

The real reason for the ban, Park said, was that the Kim Dae-jung administration wanted to avoid upsetting Pyongyang.

Hwang Jang-yop's freedom of movement was less important to the South Korean government than their appeasement of North Korea. With Kim Dae Jung replaced by Roh Moo-hyun and with Roh trying to build better relations with the United States Hwang Jang-yop began lobbying US congressmen to apply pressure to the South Korean government to give him permission for a trip to the United States.

Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-level North Korean official ever to defect to the South, sent letters to some influential U.S. congressmen early this year, asking for their help in enabling him to visit the United States.

His efforts have paid off at a time when the North Korean regime is becoming even more belligerent than usual in its statements.

North Korea's government is so easily offended that it recently threatened South Korea with some unspecified disaster if South Korea challenged North Korea over the regime's nuclear weapons development efforts.

North Korea condemned a recent summit between President Bush and South Korea's president, and warned Tuesday of an ``unspeakable disaster'' for the South if it confronts the communist state over its nuclear weapons programs.

South Korea's government didn't stay mad about this latest threat for very long. It has returned to appeasement as usual with another annual rice shipment.

South Korea agreed Friday to give North Korea 400,000 tons of rice after the two sides settled a dispute over a perceived threat from the communist North following recent U.S.-South Korean talks.

Still, South Korea's government is showing increasing signs that there are limits to its policy of appeasement of North Korea.

Asked by ruling party lawmakers if the rice shipments would continue even if the nuclear standoff deteriorated, Vice Finance and Economy Minister Kim Gwang-lim the shipments would have to be delayed.

US President George W. Bush is less afraid of doing or saying things that will anger North Korea.

"We will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea," Mr. Bush said at a Texas news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. "We will not give in to blackmail.

"We will not settle for anything less than the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear-weapons program," he said.

A Washington Post profile of Kim Jong-il written by Peter Carlson serves as a useful reminder of just what sort of regime Hwang Jang Yop will describe when he comes to the United States.

Battered by floods, decades of mismanagement and cutbacks in aid from the former Soviet bloc, the North Korean economy collapsed in the 1990s. Factories closed, offices went unheated, electricity flickered on and off. In the countryside, peasants ate grass and bark.

"If you went a little outside the center of Pyongyang," Hwang Jang Yop wrote in his memoir, "the roads were filled with people who were reduced to mere skeletons."

South Korea's government appears to be realizing that appeasement alone may not work and that it can not afford to pursue only appeasement if the Bush Administration will not do so as well.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 May 27 02:52 AM  Korea

The Marmot said at May 27, 2003 4:22 AM:

Unspecified disaster? We already have a disaster on our hands - it's called South Korean foreign policy. Any rational government would have stuck a fork in the Sunshine Policy long ago. I'll believe a delay in rice shipments when I see it; nothing seems to have detered the South from making concessions so far, so I don't expect to see it start showing some backbone now. It would be kind of nice if they did, however.

Anqi said at September 28, 2003 7:17 AM:

You know, I think North Korea is doing an awful too much. But on the other hand, North Korea is a very poor country so it is good with communism.

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