North Korean defectors are reportedly trying to build a government in exile to serve as an alternative to the Kim regime, reports The Dong-a Ilbo.
“We will proclaim the establishment of a ‘Free and Democratic North Korean Government in Exile’ in Washington early next year,” said Dr. An Chan-il, head of the World Institute for North Korean Defectors. He mentioned that he had been in contact with 10 defector group leaders on this issue.
The government in exile would, in theory, politically embrace concepts like freedom and democracy, but employ Chinese-style market reforms and open-door policies to secure much needed investment after establishment and win support from China.
“A government in exile is what the Kim Jong Un regime is most afraid of,” An told NK News. “Like we hate nuclear weapons, North Korea hates the government in exile. I believe the only asymmetric power against nuclear power is a government in exile,” he added.
“I laid out my plans this April at an event for directors around the world. My suggestions drew a furious response from Pyongyang,” An explained.
But his plan faces countless challenges.
North Korean defector groups are not on the same page on this project. “I can’t accept the idea of establishing a government in exile because it’s nonsense,” said Jung Gwang-il, head of No Chain, a North Korean human rights organization. Jung was detained in a North Korean prison camp. “This is illogical,” Jung said of the government in exile plan.
North Korea is still a United Nations member, it is unlikely that other countries, the United States in particular, will recognize a government in exile as a legitimate representative body for North Korea.
A South Korean unification ministry official told the Korea Herald that it would not recognize the the exile government. “Acknowledging the North Korean exile government would mean that the South Korean government takes North Korea as a foreign state, which would then contradict our Constitution,” the official explained to reporters.
There is the possibility that some members of the international community may offer some support to a government in exile to support North Korean democratization, but that is pure speculation.
“[A government in exile] would be very symbolic, but without much weight or relevance in the overall scheme of things,” Henry Song, a North Korean human rights activist living in Washington, DC, told NK News.
There are around 30,000 North Korean defectors in South Korea and around 200 in the U.S.
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