Both South and North Koreans must realize the truth

[imText1]Mr. Hwang Jang-Yop delivered a message on March 1, 2005 (Korean national holiday commemorating the declaration of independence) over FREE NORTH KOREA BROADCAST, a radio station that reaches both South and North Korea. Mr. Hwang is the highest ranking defector from North Korea and he is now serving as the Chairman of ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRATIZING NORTH KOREA, an advocacy group headquartered in Seoul.

In his address Chairman Hwang lamented, “I’m still out of touch with what’s going on in South Korea today, but I am appalled by what I see.” He was referring to the prevailing attitudes on current issues: the North Korean government and its point of view; cooperation between the South and the North; and the need for the alliance between South Korea and the United States. He appealed to both the South and North Koreans to discern what is true and what is false surrounding these issues.

The following is the full text of his message.

It has been about eight years since my defection from North Korea into the welcoming arms of South Korea. I turned 82 on January 23 this year, but I have not experienced one day of free life as a citizen of this nation to date. As a result, my level of understanding in terms of the actual state of affairs in South Korea is no better than a kindergartener. Accordingly, I don’t feel qualified to make a statement for the March First event, namely the People’s Rally for Free North Korea. Nevertheless, I am infinitely stifled by what I see and hear, and it is my fervent wish to find out what is true and what is false.

I want to pose the following questions to the Koreans in the South and the North

First question is: should the totalitarian Kim Jong Il regime stay or go? North Korea’s dictatorial regime initiated the Korean War; labeled the fellow Koreans in the South as its prime enemy and carried out cruel massacres; after the war, it transferred the dictatorship in a monarchist succession; it intensified its totalitarianism; it caused starvation of millions of people; and it turned the entire country into a living hell under oppression, famine and poverty.

For this reason, there exists an opinion that “In order to solve all the problems in North Korea, Kim Jong Il’s totalitarian administration must be removed and make way for the open reform.” On the other hand, some people hold a contrary view that “We must assist Kim Jong Il’s dictatorship economically and politically to maintain its status quo because its collapse would render impossible the coexistence between the South and the North. The collapse would also invite outside influence, which would in turn exacerbate the overall situation,” they say.

Which side is genuine, which side is a fake?

Second, some people claim that the Pyongyang Summit [between Kim Dae Jung of South Korea and Kim Jong Il of North Korea on June 15, 2000] pioneered the road to reconciliation and cooperation between the South and the North and facilitated the change in the North towards democracy while bringing peace to the Korean peninsula. On the other hand, some people view that the Kim Dae Jung government had paid off the totalitarian regime a gigantic sum of over five hundred million dollars surreptitiously as a premium for the summit. Moreover, the negotiations and agreements made on matters of unification without consulting the people was an unconstitutional, deceitful act with total disregard for the people. They further assert that the Kim Dae Jung government should be judged and be accountable for its adverse role in empowering the pro-North / anti-US segment in violation of the democratic principles which comprise the foundation for the republic.

Which side is genuine, which side is a fake?

Third, some people contend that it is the United States—not North Korea—which represents a security threat to South Korea and they clamor for aligning with North Korea against the United States in the event of a war between North Korea and the United States. On the other hand, others view America as a trustworthy ally and advocate strengthening our alliance with America in light of the fact that the Americans sacrificed their own lives to help us repel the invasion from the North during the war that lasted three years; and after the war, the presence of the U.S. troops maintained peace in the peninsula while facilitating economic prosperity and advancement of democracy in the South.

So I ask, which side is genuine, which side is a fake?

My fellow Koreans of South and North, though my heart is old and frayed, I fill it with the real truths as I know them and I indulge myself to an inner shout.

My heartfelt cheers for March First People’s Rally for Free North Korea!

Hwang Jang-Yop
February 26, 2005