Tuesday, November 30, 2004


is already making an impact in East Asia (for text and analysis of the act, see here). It is encouraging more North Koreans to defect:
Word of the U.S. North Korean Human Rights Act has spread quickly among defectors in China, Russia and other countries, as well as to citizens in the communist state, a nongovernmental organization says.

Tim Peters, founder of Helping Hands Korea who has spoken with people in China recently, said news of the bill may encourage North Koreans to defect or refugees to seek asylum when previously they would have been "less inclined to do so."
And it is dividing the NGO community as they differ over the political implications of the act:
The bond between various NGOs appears to be unraveling because of the controversial act.

Based on U.S. human rights laws that preceded the Iraq conflict, the North Korean bill is a pretext for war, said Lee Seung-yong, who represented aid group Good Friends.

But not all NGOs attending felt so bitterly about the act, though many had suspicions that it was pushed through by hawks in Washington who favor a regime change in North Korea.

"We don't believe in vilifying North Korea, like what the U.S. is doing," said Park Jeong-eun of the Center for Peace and Disarmament.
and as they compete for the cash that the act provides:
NGOs will get a boost from the U.S. Congress since the act provides for $20 million annually to efforts related to North Korean defectors.

But Hong fears competition for funding will hurt relationships between NGOs and new groups will form to try to get the money.
The act and the reactions to it also highlight the dramatic shift in basic foreign policy orientation of both "liberals" and "(neo) conservatives":
Peters, who intertwines his work with Christian missionary efforts, has not changed his approach to helping North Koreans in the last 15 years. Years ago society labeled him as liberal, leftist and even a socialist, but now he's being lumped in with neoconservatives.
All this and the act hasn't even officially taken effect yet.

I have no first-hand knowledge but if I had to guess, I'd say that the act is having precisely the impact its creators intended.

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