The 15th annual North Korea Freedom Week will be held in Seoul, April 28 to May 5, 2018. Freedom Week focuses on the work of the North Korean defectors to change the hearts and minds of the people of North Korea to peacefully bring an end to the tyranny they suffer under Kim Jong Un. It is critically important that “in between” the ROK-DPRK summit and the US-DPRK summit that we do not lose sight of two critical facts:
1. Kim Jong Un is committing atrocious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity every day, and the latest charm offensive is aimed at your forgetting about those facts; and
2. The North Korean people — both in North Korea and those over 30,000 who have escaped — are our greatest and most valuable, but underutilized resource, for peaceful change.
To fail to address human rights concerns at any meeting with North Korea is not only a complete betrayal to the people of North Korea, but it strengthens the lies of Kim Jong Un’s propaganda that justifies his nuclear program. When we fail to raise our concerns about what Kim is doing to destroy the lives of his own people, he triumphs because he has convinced people in North Korea through a steady diet of brainwashing since childhood that the United States of America is bent on their destruction. Yet, the reality is that what America wants for North Korea is for North Koreans to have the same freedoms and human rights and the prosperity and dignity that comes with it.
This is why Donald Trump’s address to the South Korean Assembly and his State of the Union were masterful. Calling Kim Jong un a “Rocket Man” was also “brilliant_ — in the words of Dr. Thomas Belke, the foremost expert on North Korea’s Juche religion — because Trump openly mocked North Korea’s “god.”
Right at the point when finally there is no doubt in the international community of the atrocities being committed by the Kim regime, the person who should care the most in the world about their suffering, President Moon Jae-In, seems to have decided to forsake them by not addressing any human rights issues at his upcoming summit.
Thus, it is even more important that the United States make human rights the priority in any talks with North Korea. At the very least, we should ask for the release of all political prisoners (including the Americans held there) and abductees and that the International Red Cross have access to the political prison “reeducation” camps before we sit down with Kim Jong Un. Anything less is to empower and embolden the Kim regime.
Secondly, we have continued to fail to recognize the incredible accomplishments of the people of North Korea in the face of horrific suffering.
It is the women of North Korea through their own efforts to save their families from starvation that created the capitalist market system that is their means of survival today.
It is the people of North Korea, hungry for knowledge, who have risked their lives to listen to foreign radio broadcasts, to watch foreign movies, and South Korean soap operas who have educated themselves about the outside world so they are no longer literally living in total darkness and isolation.
It is the people of North Korea who have escaped who have taken up the work once done by the military of the ROK and the USA to get the truth to North Korea
Well over 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea. Many have formed organizations focused on getting information to their homeland believing fervently the truth will set them free. Thus, North Korea Freedom Week will focus on their efforts through radio broadcasting, balloon launches, and cross border information transfers to spread truth to their homeland as well as their work rescuing those trying to escape.
The world needs to understand that what the defectors are doing – at great risk to their lives and their financial security – is the key to resolving the crisis in North Korea.
In the words of Kim Seong Min, who heads Free North Korea Radio: “Kim Jong Un justifies his enormous expenditures developing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction by claiming that the DPRK is under threat of attack from the United States. This is a powerful lie, but it is a lie, and once it is exposed as a lie, the people of North Korea begin to open their eyes to the truth: that Kim Jong Un is the source of all their misery and suffering.”
In the words of another defector Park Sang Hak, who chairs the North Korean Defector Association and regularly sends in information through balloon launches: “What a liar fears most is the truth and the greatest liar in the world is Kim Jong Un. We can end the North Korean regime in a really simple way: by spreading the truth to our homeland.”
Everyone around the world can be a part of the 15th annual North Korea Freedom Week as we will begin with an International Day of Prayer and Fasting for the freedom of the North Korean people. This call for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting came as a result of a U.S. congressional briefing in which Dr. Thomas Belke testified that the spiritual evil pervading North Korea can only be defeated by prayer and fasting.
North Korea Freedom Week is a week devoted to promoting the freedom, human rights and dignity of the people of North Korea and first began on April 28, 2004 in Washington, D.C. as “North Korea Freedom Day.” At the time it was the largest gathering ever held outside the Korean peninsula to promote freedom for the people of North Korea and led to the unanimous passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act.
For further information visit www.nkfreedom.org
Suzanne Scholte is one of the world’s leading North Korea human rights activists, the recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize and chairs the North Korea Freedom Coalition.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.