[imText1]Former President Kim Dae Jung bragged about the sunshine policy’s role in détente between North and South Koreas, improvement of North Korean human rights and eventual democratization.
In the 5th-year anniversary ceremony of establishment of the National Human Rights Commission last Friday, the former president and Nobel Peace laureate focused, surprisingly, on North Korean human rights and indirectly criticized South Korean government’s endorsement of the UN GA North Korean human rights resolution.
Kim expressed his view on NK human rights by saying “It is hard to figure out human rights condition of such isolated country like North Korea and there has been no example in history that a communist state’s human rights was improved by outside pressure and interference.”
Kim DJ’s argument is self-absorbing with the “invincible” sunshine policy. It is his justification that although “North Korea did not achieve much in political human rights,” South Korean humanitarian aid saved millions of lives from starvation and illness.
Nevertheless, few North Korean residents have received any of the “aid.”
KBS Social Education Broadcasting Service (a South Korean national radio program toward North Korea) conducted a poll among 300 former defectors from October 16 to 19, and the result showed that 35.0 percent of respondents evaluated the government’s aid to NK as “not helpful at all” for North Korean residents, and 28.0 % replied ‘somewhat unhelpful,’ totaling the negative opinion on South Korea’s economic aid to reach 63.0 %.
Moreover, it has been repeatedly argued by international human rights organizations’ officials who monitored the humanitarian aid projects in NK that most of the South Korean rice were distributed to the armed forces and senior members of the KWP and they sold the aids back to black markets.
It is understandable how valuable the sunshine policy is in Kim DJ’s life and political career. Also, I do not think the idea “transformation through aid” as totally futile. However, we must not be overwhelmed by aid and cooperation while overlooking North Korea’s human rights violation and other criminal activities.
It becomes more preposterous as the former president defended his policy for bringing ‘peace’ in the Korean peninsula in spite of the North’s nuclear test.
Kim’s remark “There has been no example in history that a communist state’s human rights was improved by outside pressure and interference” does anything but contradiction of his own experience as a fighter for democracy of South Korea, who received international support during military dictatorship.