Friday, January 28, 2005


Aidan Foster-Carter's "Boycott or Business" succinctly summarizes an impressive number of recent developments in North Korea, North-South relations etc. A few appetizers include Foster-Carter's denunciation of the ROK's present policy on DPRK refugees:
Security is of course a proper concern. Yet this set of measures, which Rhee said will "have a deterrent effect," seems both mean-spirited and short-sighted. Maybe illegal, too: the ROK constitution still formally claims jurisdiction over the entire Peninsula and all its inhabitants, so can a state seek to exclude its own citizens? Questionable too, both legally (double jeopardy) and politically, is the idea of re-punishing those who had fallen foul of Kim Jong-il's regime: some will not be common criminals, and all have arguably suffered enough. Training is useful, but making life even harder for Northerners to get by in a society where most already feel alien and unwelcome seems both perverse and cruel.

To do all this from a selfish wish to repel boarders makes mockery of the lip-service paid to unification as the ultimate Korean dream. Finally, to make Kim Jong-il's victims suffer yet more, in the hope of wheedling their tormentor back to the table, suggests a failing of not only moral judgment but common sense. Seoul should know by now that Pyongyang cynically switches its umbrage on and off at will, largely regardless of actions by others.

and his observation that official DPRK support for the Kaesong Industrial Zone seems less than enthusiastic:
Will Kaesong too prove stillborn? The Dec. 15 celebration of Livingart's first output was ominous. Seoul's 380-strong delegation was headed by Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, on his first visit to North Korea, yet Northern media did not report his presence. Pyongyang sent a less senior official, who berated the South for alleged foot-dragging and even walked out during Chung's speech, to Hyundai's embarrassment.
There's much more, all written in Foster-Carter's imitable style. One may not agree with everything he writes, but one is seldom bored by it. Read the whole thing.

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