Keeping America Strong. Promoting Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Abroad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEFENSE FORUM FOUNDATION

Defense and Foreign Policy Forum

 

Reporting from the Front Lines on the 
Fight for North Korea’s Freedom and Human Rights

 

Welcome and Moderator:

Suzanne Scholte,

President,

Defense Forum Foundation

 

Speakers:

Defectors from North Korea

Kim Seung Min, Kim Young Soon, & Kim Hye Sook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 23, 2011

TRANSCRIPT

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SUZANNE SCHOLTE:  Good afternoon, if I can have your attention.  I’m Suzanne Scholte, I’m president of the Defense Forum Foundation, and it’s an honor to welcome you all to our Congressional Defense and Foreign Policy Forum.  I want to acknowledge some of the special guests that we have in our audience.  First of all, the diplomatic community – Dr. Jangwon Jo from the Embassy of Korea is with us; Ambassador Mouloud Said of the Saharawi Republic; Counsellor with the Embassy of Japan, Akira Chiba, is with us. 

 

            We also have from the Defense Forum Foundation, our Vice-Chair, Ty McCoy and his guest Karen Horn; and many of you know that the Defense Forum currently chairs the North Korea Freedom Coalition, which is a group of NGOs that work for the freedom, human rights, and the dignity of the North Korean people and we have the Vice-Chairman of that Coalition here, Pastor Heemoon Lee and his wife.  As well as one of the more active organizations in the Coalition, Peter Kang of the Korea Freedom Alliance.  And I want to acknowledge a very special family, a mother and daughter that are here, this family was part of the ‘Beijing 17’  and if you’re familiar with that incident back in 2008, before the Beijing Olympics, there were 17 North Korean defectors that had gained access to the UNHCR and were being held and protected in a safe house by the UNHCR, but the government of China went to the UNHCR and said we will not allow any of these people, the North Korean refugees, to seek asylum – any of them to have exit visas unless you promise us you will not allow any more North Koreans to seek refugee status from the UNHCR.  Now, the UNCHR, their whole purpose in life is to help refugees so they couldn’t agree to something like that.  And that whole threat got exposed and those 17 were able to resettle and one family came here after suffering horrific persecution not only in North Korea but also in China, when they were trying to get to the United States.  And it’s a real honor to have Mrs. Han Sung Hwa and her daughter, Jinhye Jo who are now North Korean-Americans – go ahead and stand up.

 

            And I also want to acknowledge from the Defense Forum Foundation helping today with the Forum and also as translator, Henry Song, back here, and Hyemi Shin also, right here.

 

            It’s been a great honor for the Defense Forum Foundation to have hosted these three people that you are about to hear from – they’ve been here this whole week – they’ve testified in Congress on Tuesday afternoon, thanks to Congressman Chris Smith, and you can see that hearing on C-SPAN, which covered the event.  They’ve also participated in a protest which we had yesterday – I mentioned the Beijing 17 – the situation facing the North Korean refugees in China is absolutely horrific.  It’s to me the most solvable human rights tragedy that is occurring in the world today and you are going to hear from one of the witnesses that was sold 4 times in China, after being through a horrible experience of being in a political prison camp in North Korea.  But yesterday, we did a protest that occurred simultaneously in 26 cities in 13 countries, to advocate on behalf of these refugees.  The protests were held at the consulates of the People’s Republic of China and their embassies all over the world.  And for example, in Los Angeles 400 people demonstrated in front of the consulate in Los Angeles, in Romania, there were petitions delivered to the Chinese Embassy in  Bucharest and the two consulates there – petitions were delivered to both locations and the Romanian Parliament actually got involved; Japanese Diet also got involved – they had made a resolution on the refugees, hosted a screening of ‘Crossing’ – we had people involved in this all over the world – Mexico City, 350 people signed a petition and they had an all-day film screening, just to expose what the Chinese were doing and continuing to call on them to simply follow the international law and stop repatriating these North Korean refugees to North Korea where they will most certainly be imprisoned, most certainly be tortured and in some cases executed.  In fact, just last week two humanitarian workers – one was killed and one got extremely ill and almost died – both were in China trying to help North Korean refugees and it’s just – the suspicion is that it was North Korean agents that tried to murder the two of them and it’s kind of a irony that the Government of China will allow North Korean agents to freely hunt down refugees that are trying to escape from North Korea and assassinate humanitarian workers, but it won’t allow the UNHCR to have access to these refugees and follow international law and agreements that they’ve signed. 

 

            So anyway I just wanted to make that point about that protest because what’s happening to – it’s horrible enough what’s going on in North Korea – but to see what’s happening to the refugees that are coming over to China who’s complicit in these terrible crimes.

 

            Our three guests here today have been here this whole week, testifying in Congress as I have mentioned, participating in protests and demonstrations, the two main themes they’ve been emphasizing is, and I want you to remember today, is that when it comes to North Korea, the most important issue is the human rights issue and we have neglected that with tragic results.  And the second thing is, these defectors are so active in reaching out to the people in North Korea that we need to empower them, the North Korea defectors, who have escaped, to do the programming that they are doing, to reach out to the North Korean people, who no longer believe that America and South Korea are the source of their misery.  They now know that the source of their misery is the Kim Jong Il regime.  So it’s even more important to talk about human rights, even more important to give them the tools that they need to be able to reach out to the North Koreans who have so much more information now than ever before. 

 

            We’re going to go in this order, you guys all have a bio – I’m not going to go into a lot of details about their biographies to save time, but you have all their information about their backgrounds – we’re going to go in this order and I’m going to call on Mrs. Kim Young Soon to speak first, and then Mrs. Kim Hye Sook, and then Kim Seong Min.

 

            Mrs. Kim Young Soon is a survivor of Yodok, one of the infamous political prison camps, she is very active in the North Korean defectors organizations, and then Mrs. Kim Hye Sook is the longest survivor of the North Korean political prison camp, having gone there, or sent there rather when she was a teenager, and she was in a camp for 28 years.  And then we’re going to hear from Kim Seong Min, who’s the Director of Free North Korea Radio, and also the founders of the North Korea People’s Liberation Front.   So these three amazing people, give them your attention please.  Mrs. Kim Young Soon?

MRS. KIM YOUNG SOON:  [TRANSLATION FROM KOREAN TO ENGLISH] I would like to thank Suzanne Scholte of the Defense Forum Foundation for hosting this important event this week during Save North Korean Refugees Day, and I would also like to thank the distinguished guests that are here, especially those from the Congressional offices. 

 

            And I thank everyone here for showing great concern and interest regarding the human rights issue of North Korea so thank you for that again.

 

            Human beings are born free, that is the universal truth, however despite that in North Korea, because of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the people suffered greatly.  In the past there were 13, but now they have been consolidated and reduced to 5 or 6 camps.  

 

            I believe we cannot stop our work for human rights of North Korea because of the situation in North Korea.  The people there have suffered too long under the dictatorship of man, under the hardship of being imprisoned as a nation, and therefore we must continue our work. 

 

            I was sent to Yodok in 1970.  It is in North Korea only where one gets sent to a prison camp without a trial, without knowing one’s crime – nowhere else will this happen except in North Korea.

 

            Because I knew information about Kim Jong Il’s private life, because I knew that Sung Hae Rim was his secret mistress, I was sent to Yodok and spent 9 years there – reasons which I only found out after I was released from Yodok.  At Yodok, I lost my mother and father to starvation.  I lost one son due to a drowning accident.  Another son, after we were released from Yodok Prison Camp, was shot and killed in a public execution by firing squad when he was caught attempting to escape from North Korea and trying to reach South Korea.  My husband was sent away to another prison camp months before I myself was sent, for reasons unknown; to this day I do not know his fate.  My daughter, I gave up for adoption after our release from Yodok, because I wanted her to have a future.  The one son who made it to South Korea with me, because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of guards in North Korea for five months, is now classified as a physically handicapped citizen by the South Korean government. 

 

            So that is what happened to my family at Yodok.  Yodok is a place where subhuman, inhumane conditions exist, one where even animals would turn away in shame, a place where we ate anything that flew, crawled, or grew in the fields.  The fact that I am even standing here before all of you, is a miracle, a truly remarkable thing.  And it is also very remarkable that I have survived Yodok and can talk before you this afternoon.  It is an utterly miraculous and amazing thing.

 

            However, I found freedom, and I was able to find myself in the bosom of the Republic of Korea, South Korea, and today in front of the world, in my travels, I cry out to everyone to save North Korea. 

 

            I live my life now with a positive outlook, and with a thankful attitude.  However, we cannot ignore and remain silent at the groaning of the 23 million people in North Korea right now. 

 

            200,000 inmates in the political prison camps will be unable to avoid death when the regime kills and buries them all when the country is opened up or freed or if there is reform, or when there is regime change.

 

            The Kim Jong Il regime must be destroyed now, so that the political prisoners will be freed, and that the people of North Korea will be able to live in freedom, through reform and openness, and this is something all freedom loving people throughout the world must pay attention to and work on. 

 

            The United States of America, which stands for freedom and justice, and is also an ally of South Korea, and in light of strengthening the USA-ROK Alliance, must take the lead in working to free the people of North Korea.  I ask of this earnestly.

 

            Thank you so much for taking the time in the midst of your busy schedule, to come and hear us speak, and to show your interest in the human rights issue of North Korea.  And please take some concrete measures – we are defectors, we have no power.  However, we as people who have resettled in South Korea, we tell everyone we meet, about the reality of the human rights situation in North Korea, and also tell people throughout the world, and it is my desire that the people throughout the world of influence and power can work together for the reunification and the freeing of the people of North Korea. 

 

            Lastly, I trust and believe that the United States will give freedom to the people of North Korea. 

 

Thank you.  [Applause]

 

MRS. KIM HYE SOOK: [TRANSLATION FROM KOREAN TO ENGLISH] Hello, it is a great honor to meet all of you today.  Thank you.  I was sent to the political prison camp when I was 13 years old, and spent 28 years there.  I did not know the reason why I was sent to the prison camp.  I lost my parents, my siblings there, and I was the only who was able to survive and come out alive.  I am so grateful to be able to stand before you and to speak before you here today. 

 

            After I lost my parents, from the age of 17, I became the parents to my younger siblings, and right now my younger siblings are still there at Bukchang Prison camp – they have been incarcerated there for more than 30 years now.  My father, mother, grandmother, younger brother, my husband, all suffered there at the camp, while working in the coalmines, suffering through starvation; my own children died from the experience from the camps - my one wish was to feed them one hot bowl of white rice, and it is beyond my imagination how I was able to survive that experience for 28 years.

 

            Kim Jong Il in North Korea is not a human being.  He has put people in prison without any reason, and for 30 years people have died without anyone knowing or caring about them, and this is what has happened to my own family, and to my own siblings.  Even my own son and daughter, whom I gave birth to in the prison camp, after our release they were tragically killed during a severe flood, swept away to their deaths.  When I think about that I really wonder how I survived all that, all that tragedy – how I am able to stand before you in the free world today and speak to you.

 

            Right now as we speak at Camp Number 18 in Bukchang, my siblings are still there, people are still there suffering unspeakable hardships, as if under a dark cloud, eating tree bark and grass to supplement the meager corn gruel that is the only source of food that is provided, without any shoes, wandering around, trying to survive. 

 

 

            I earnestly ask that the United States, and other countries in the world, will work hard to save and rescue the prisoners who are held in the prison camps in North Korea right now, and bring down the regime.

 

            I myself will give every breath I have and dedicate the remaining years I have left in my life to raise my voice and tell the world about what is happening in North Korea right now, to let the world know what the North Korean political prison camps are like, to let the world know what kind of suffering and hardship the prisoners are going through, and to isolate the North Korean regime and help bring about the closing down of the political prison camps now so that the prisoners there can be freed and enjoy the same freedom as I do today.

 

            I want to thank all of you, for coming today and listening to my story, my life story which in North Korea was as worthless as the dust on the ground.   Thank you for giving us your precious time to hear us today, and I want to thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your presence here this afternoon.  Thank you very much [Applause]

 

MR. KIM SEONG MIN:  [TRANSLATION FROM KOREAN TO ENGLISH]  I want to start off by saying that in South Korea there are 23,000 sad tales of North Korean defectors, as you’ve just heard right now.  Also, I would like to say that there are defectors who have overcome the grief and sadness, put all the suffering behind them, and have formed organizations and groups to fight against Kim Jong Il’s dictatorship and his regime – there are now over 30 North Korean defector groups active in South Korea right now. 

 

            Because Kim Jong Il fears and is threatened by the very existence of these North Korean defector groups, I would also like to say that Kim Jong Il is still sending assassins to threaten and kill these defector organization leaders and directors. 

 

            Among these North Korean defector groups and leaders is a colleague and friend of mine who stands out among all of us, through the work he does of sending balloons into North Korea; his name is Park Sang Hak.  The Fighters for Free North Korea, the organizations started by Mr. Park, has sent over 50,000,000 leaflets just this year alone, into North Korea, via balloons.

 

            Leaflet-sending via balloons is perhaps one of the most effective and successful and only ways of sending the truth and news of the outside world to the people of North Korea, but this was something that the government of South Korea used to do, in sending leaflets, but has now stopped – this is what happened in the previous administration. 

 

            The balloon launches are now being supported by the Defense Forum Foundation and the American people.  I believe that the undying passion and energy of Mr. Park in continuing to send balloons into North Korea, despite the difficulties and the dangers he faces, is possible because of the support and the help from the Defense Forum Foundation and from the American people. 

 

            The more leaflets, money, USBs, DVDs etc are sent to North Korea, the more support the American people have for the freedom and the liberation of the North Korean people – this shows that the will of the American people to work for the freedom of the North Korean people is being accomplished. 

 

            And also, I believe this is more productive and effective than dozens or hundreds of Six-Party Talks or other talks, in solving the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula. 

 

            Next, I want to talk a little bit about the North Korean People’s Liberation Front, a defector group comprised of former members of the North Korean military.  This group was formed in September 9th of 2010, and just very recently we celebrated our 1 year anniversary; we are a young and fresh group, but we have already established 6 networks within North Korea. 

 

            It is a very small number, but we are establishing and developing anti-regime networks comprised of current active duty and retired North Korean military members, and with other anti-regime elements inside the country.  Currently, I can announce that we are working on a project to bring down a statue of Kim Il Sung inside North Korea, and this group, called the ‘Group to Bring Down the Statue of Kim Il Sung’ is active and working in South Korea to work with our networks in North Korea to be able to do this. 

 

            So, we are publicly putting pressure on Kim Jong Il, through the aforementioned activities, and in South Korea, we are protesting in front of the offices of pro-North Korea, pro-Kim Jong Il leftist organizations such as the ‘Citizen’s Solidarity for Peace and Unification’ and other leftist groups, opposing these groups doing dozens and dozens of protests, and calling for these groups to be disbanded by starting citizens’ petition drives. 

 

            Through these examples I have just given you, while in the past there was just mere talk of doing things, now you see defector groups actually engaged in activities and doing this, instead of merely talking, and besides FFNK, or NKPLF, there are other groups such as NKIS (North Korean Intellectuals Solidarity), a group comprised of former members of the elite from North Korea, and the Committee for the Democratization of North Korea, that are very actively involved in doing proactive work and activities, that go beyond just mere talk. 

 

            Among these groups, there is also a group called ‘Free North Korea Radio’ (FNKR), a radio station comprised of North Korea defectors that currently broadcasts 2 hours daily, and has over 39 different programming. 

 

            Some representative programs are ones titled ‘To the Puppets of the Dictator’; this program is one where defectors who have suffered or were beaten or harassed under the members of the regime, call out the names of their former tormentors, and reveal their identities and the atrocities they committed via the radio broadcast.

 

            At one point in FNKR’s history we used to get funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to help run our radio station.  However, NED said that saying the names of officials of the DPRK regime would be too provocative, and told us that we needed to stop the program, and thus the program was stopped because of what NED told us.  However, because of the recent support and funding from the Defense Forum Foundation, we were able to restart this program. 

 

            Next is a program called ‘The Voice of the People’, and this is where we interview people from the border region of China and North Korea and record the phone conversation and air the interview via broadcast – so we are broadcasting the actual voice of the North Korean people. 

 

            Another program is called ‘Letters From America’, and this is where average American citizens write letters of support, encouragement,  to the people of North Korea, so that the North Korean people will see and learn that the American people are not ‘Yankee Imperialist Wolves’ but rather caring, peaceful people who deeply are about the North Korean people.  This is a very popular program.

 

            I know Suzanne Scholte is a very busy person, but despite her schedule I know she sends regular recordings of the letters to us so that we can translate them and air them. 

 

            ‘The People’s Army 24 Hours’ is a program where we tell the people in the army to turn the barrel of their rifles at Kim Jong Il. 

 

            ‘The Judgment of the Dictator’ is a program where we talk about what happened to dictators in the past such as Nicolae Ceauşescu and other examples from what happened in the Eastern Europe, and most recently, we talk about what happened in North Africa and what is going on in the Middle East in terms of the people uprising in those countries in that region.

 

            Also, there are programs that feature North Korean defectors who have become Christian ministers, whereby they talk about the differences between the ‘Juche’ ideology and Christianity, and also talk about religious persecution in North Korea and other Christianity-based themes.

 

            FNKR is a station that once received funding from the NED, from the US State Department, and now from the Defense Forum Foundation, and from the generous American people; because of the support we are receiving now, we are able to operate and broadcast our radio station.

 

            I believe that FNKR’s work is one that speaks against the hatred and the evil of the Kim Jong Il regime, one that is the worst in the whole world.  And it is also the best way to show the big-hearted love and compassion of the American people towards the most suffering and miserable people in the world, the people of North Korea.  I believe that this is the best example of the freedom-loving and freedom-leading American people’s passion and worldwide coalition when it comes to caring for the issue of human rights in North Korea. 

 

            I want to truly and deeply thank the Defense Forum Foundation and Suzanne Scholte, who has helped us and other defector groups in the past, in the present, and undoubtedly in the future, to be able to work and get support in our work for the fight for human rights of North Korea – and also to all of you who are present here this afternoon. 

 

            Thank you.  [Applause]

 

SUZANNE SCHOLTE:  We’re now going to have a Q&A, so if anyone wants to ask any questions, I would like to ask the Congressional Staff ask their questions first, and then we are going to have an opportunity after the forum for them to talk with members of the media if they want to do any follow-up questions.  So, any questions you may have for any one of our three witnesses please go ahead and just raise your hand.  And if you could just say your name and the office that you are from.  Yes sir.

 

Q:  Kevin Doran from Congressman Westmoreland’s office from Georgia.  The last gentleman who spoke, cited what was happening in the Middle East to encourage those in North Korea to rise up against the Kim Jong Il regime.   Has there been a noticeable effect from that?  Both on the issue of a renewed effort from the people and rising up, or if the regime is clamping down on the people to make sure the uprisings don’t happen?

 

SUZANNE SCHOLTE:  Yes, I was going to mention that he’s also been targeted for assassination, and Park Sang Hak – they caught somebody who was in South Korea about a week ago who was trying to assassinate Park Sang Hak.   And he had just started sending in flash drives that had information about what was happening in the Middle East and North Africa.  It’s an excellent, excellent question.

 

MR. KIM SEONG MIN: [TRANSLATION FROM KOREAN TO ENGLISH]  In terms of the effectiveness of radio broadcasts, the only way we can find out obviously is from defectors who have heard our broadcasts and have come out of North Korea, and to hear from them the effectiveness of the work we do.  However, the North Korean people, what’s different from them and the people in North Africa and the Middle East, and from the people in Easter Europe is, the North Korean people is so isolated, the regime has done such a complete job of isolating the people from the outside world, the leaflets via balloons is perhaps one of the only methods or ways for the people to know about news from the outside world. 

 

            But compared to the past, right now via radio broadcasts, leaflets, DVDs, USBs, through these various methods, we are able to deliver a great amount of information to the North Korean people, and one development that is very fortunate is that now, the South Korean government, not the past administration, but the current one, is now doing the balloon launch and broadcasting into North Korea as a national policy, the government of Lee Myung Bak is now doing what was stopped before, so now you have an explosive amount of information getting into North Korea right now.  These activities I believe will be able to plant the seeds and lay the foundation for the people of North Korea to someday rise up like the people in the Middle East and North Korea via the People’s Revolution, and trigger something similar to happen in North Korea.  I have confidence that will happen. 

 

SUZANNE SCHOLTE:  I was wondering if there was more of a clampdown because of these activities, and I know for example, Kim Seong Min, you can comment on this – that back in, when I first got involved with this issue in 1996, if you got caught with a radio that was not issued by the government, you could be sent to a political prison camp.  But my understanding is that now there are so many radios in North Korea that they’ve decriminalized owning radios, there’s just so many of them.  There’s not enough jails to lock up everybody.  My understanding is that if you’re caught with a radio now, there’s not a penalty, but he can perhaps comment on that.

 

MR. KIM SEONG MIN:  [TRANSLATION FROM KOREAN TO ENGLISH]  Well, we have heard just now from Mrs. Kim Young Soon that some of the people sent to Yodok were for the crime of listening to foreign broadcasts or for possessing a radio not issued by the state.  Compared to the past, there’s a lot of info and stuff getting into North Korea, and now you have South Korean soap operas and American TV shows and action movies being available in the North.  Radios, compared to the past, are not as severely punished as before.  However, even now, if you are caught listening to South Korean broadcasts, you will be sent to a prison camp or be very severely punished. 

 

            Recently, the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) of South Korea aired footage of a public execution taken by a hidden camera, and this footage showed an execution that happened because the person was caught watching South Korean soap opera shows, and this was vividly portrayed via the airing of the footage on KBS.

 

SUZANNE SCHOLTE:  Other questions?  Yes sir.

 

Q:  A major concern for Congress, is that there’s no Six-Party talks, our financial issues with North Korea, I like to first ask about the flood assistance – American NGOs such as Samaritan’s Purse, the Rev. Franklin Graham said there was a need so we sent assistance – do you have any comments on that? 

MR. KIM SEONG MIN:  The issue of humanitarian aid to North Korea is one that bothers us all the time.  North Korea is our homeland, where we were born, a place where our parents and relatives still live, but I believe the current state of aid should not be given to North Korea, that aid should not be given to North Korea.  Whether that is continuing the way it is now, or aid in the future, any aid, in whatever shape or form, once it goes to North Korea, because of the special nature of the dictatorial regime of North Korea, all aid that is sent will be propagandized and described as gifts given to the Dear Leader.  Therefore, the situation will be described as the American bastards and its South Korean lackeys giving and offering gifts to the Dear Leader – there are so many instances of this that has happened in the  past, and in reality happening like this right now.  That is why I believe that when the US government, or the South Korean government, or any other government, gives aid to North Korea, we must get accurate information from the regime regarding where exactly the food is needed, information that is almost on a surrender-level, in that the aid givers will know for sure that the aid will not be redirected, and that we will know exactly where to deliver the aid.  Or, only after complete and verifiable measures are set in place should aid be given, if not, if things continue the way they are now, all aid will be told to the people as being given as gifts to the Dear Leader. 

 

Q:  The second program we are concerned about is the POW/MIA remains.  It’s a very sensitive issue for our dead soldiers’ families, but the concern is that in the past American officials brought suitcases of cash to North Korea to pay for the recovery and the logistics, they would not take payment through bank transfers, so there’s the concern regarding the money.  And then there’s the concern regarding identifying the remains, we know that the Japanese when they were returned the remains of Megumi Yokota, it turned out to be false remains, so the two questions about the MIA, why do they have to have the money brought in suitcases full of cash, where does it go, and how can we be assured that all the remains we get are really the remains of US soldiers who died? 

 

MR. KIM SEONG MIN:  Before I answer your questions I just want to touch upon the first question you asked.  To realize how impetuous the North Korean regime acts in its dealings, in the past when former Secretary Madeleine Albright visited North Korea, the documents we were able to get from North Korea of internal memos and talks given to members of the government in North Korea described the visit as “The American whore bitch has come to North Korea to surrender to the Dear Leader.”  And this was plainly written on the document.  And also, when South Korean presidents Kim Dae Jung and No Moo Hyun visited North Korea, both visits were described as visits of surrender to the Dear Leader by the South Korean leaders who limped their way to North Korea.  That is the North Korea we are dealing with and if we don’t pay attention we will make big mistakes. 

 

Regarding the issue of the POWs/MIAs of the American armed forces, that is something I am not an expert on, but the following are my thoughts regarding the issue, and I know are the thoughts of many North Koreans as well.  North Korea may act like a strong country and put up a front, but the North Korean citizens themselves know that the United States places a very high importance on the sacrifice and the honor of its fallen soldiers.  Therefore, in the past we’ve received numerous calls to our radio station FNKR from North Korean citizens who have asked how much the American government would pay them if they brought out the remains of American soldiers.  We’d then ask, how they would know about the American government being interested in the remains of its soldiers, and they’d say that the areas where the American soldiers remains are believed to be in, are specially marked by the North Korean military and regular citizens are not allowed to approach the marked areas; so there have been a few cases where I’ve notified the American military of these sort of information.  The North Korean government itself, perhaps even Kim Jong Il himself, thinks of two things, first, they acknowledge and recognize that the Americans will honor and remember its war heroes, those who have died in the Korean War; and the second is that the Americans will pay money to get the remains of its soldiers back, so I believe to a certain extant the North Koreans abused this situation to gain financial advantages.  I believe that in instances like this, the American government should stick to its principles and just lay everything out in public, make the negotiations public in terms of dealing with the North Korean government – why does the American government need to carry suitcases full of cash to North Korea?  I wonder about that.  Say in public, “We will pay so and so amount to you, the North Korean government; we are sticking to our principles, our core values – now, send us the remains, or let us verify the remains of our dead soldiers.”  And send in DNA teams, equipment that is able to verify these things, and doing these things in a public and open manner will be the only way to bring about a truthful answer from the North Korean regime.

 

Q:  Just the last part again, waiting for notification of food aid, the Administration has not responded, there’s two concerns in Congress, one we are at poverty levels here in the United States, unseen since from the Great Depression, so we have our own people hungry, and second, it’s Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday coming up next year, and there’s concern by some members of Congress that any food given now will be used for propaganda purposes for his birthday party, so can you respond to that?

 

MR. KIM SEONG MIN:  The fact that the United States continues to help, or desires to help, despite its own difficulties, is again something the country should publicize and put out in the open – the more the North Korean regime attempts to deceive and act in a conniving way, the more the United States should continue to put pressure on the regime and even if things continue to be difficult for the United States, pressure must be put on the regime so that there will be a clear understanding that unless the regime gives out food aid to the ones who desperately need the food inside the country, no aid will be given.  We have to show that the US will not be strung along.

 

SUZANNE SCHOLTE:  We’re just about out of time, but I wanted to make a comment if you could translate for me.  I got a call – you raised the issue of these Christian relief organizations – I got a call last year from someone involved in that kind of work and has been for 16 years, going into North Korea; he’s American, successful business man, retired, and very strong Christian, and he’s been going in there doing relief work.  And he basically called me up and said, ‘Suzanne, I want to defect.’  He said there’s a ‘sick’ co-dependency between these groups that go in to North Korea supposedly delivering aid and that in fact it’s helping the regime, and he realized after working in North Korea and delivering aid for 16 years that all he was doing was prolonging the regime, and this absolutely had to stop.  And it’s sad to see, as a Christian, to see people who care about humanity, actually helping the regime, because as Kim Seong Min pointed out, unless you can be in the country and make sure that aid is consumed by the intended recipient, it would be diverted and it will help the regime and that’s a fact, the defectors keep telling us this again and again and again.  And it’s a terrible shame.  

 

Anyway, I wanted to make an announcement for Monday, there is going to be a photo exhibit that you are all invited too, right here in the Capitol, in the Rayburn Foyer, Peter Kang of the Korea Freedom Alliance helped set it up.  It is a wonderful exhibit, I’ve seen it in South Korea; any American – you should absolutely bring your Congressman or Senator if they’re in town on Monday to see this, it is an amazing photo exhibit from the Korean War showing what the American soldiers did to guarantee the freedom of the South Korean people, and part of the exhibit shows the incredible development of South Korea juxtaposed against what’s happening in North Korea, how backward and behind they are from the rest of the world because one became a democracy and one remained a dictatorship.  So, Rayburn Foyer, 10 to 4 on Monday, there’s a reception at 10:30AM. 

 

Well, thank you all for being here, and for members of the media if you want to ask a couple more follow-up questions, I’m going to have the defectors go back to your table if you have any more questions.  So, thank you all for being here.  Kam-sa-ham-nida!  (Thank you!).  [Applause]

 

(END)