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Help Them Now and Save Yourself
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2016-01-21 13:23:03
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Help Them Now and Save Yourself

- My Advice to Pro-Pyongyang Korean Leaders in Japan-


Min-Ju KIM
Co-Chairman, the Society to Help
Returnees to North Korea, Tokyo, Japan


Not a single day passes without newspaper reports about the food crisis in North Korea these days. The pro-Pyongyang Korean leaders in Japan would like to attribute it to "the flood of the century." To be honest, it is clear that the food shortage is due to the failure of so called "Juche Agriculture," the North Korea's agricultural policy. I am sure no one of the pro-Pyongyang leadership would dare object to my assessment if he or she has ever visited North Korea even once.

The extent of food shortage may vary from place to place in North Korea. The Koreans who were expatriated from Japan to North Korea during the late fifties and early seventies (Korean-repatriates) are in great despair without any hope. Particularly, those Korean repatriates who do not have any source of support from Japan are much worse-off. No conscientious man would be able to deny the reality if he is really concerned with humanity. Obviously, it is the pro-Pyongyang Korean leaders in Japan who know best the tragedy of the Korean repatriates in North Korea today.

This is an old story. Once, I brought to Mrs. T. S. Han, wife of the Chairman of the pro-Pyongyang Federation in Japan, a letter from her sister in North Korea. Mrs. Han's sister was begging for help in the letter. At first, Mrs. Han refused to accept the letter and declared that she had no such sister. Then, she quietly took it through her secretary.

I have received three letters from North Korea this year. The first letter was from my brother who has survived in North Korea to date. I could not recognize the senders' name on the envelopes of the other two letters. When I finished reading them, I realized that the letters were from the families of two old friends. One of the letters was from the family of my friend who went from South Korea to North Korea during the Korean war in his passion for communism. The other letter was from the family of my boyhood friend in Tokyo who was repatriated to North Korea in the sixties. The letters explained how difficult it is to live in North Korea's economy and asked for any help I could give. I could not read the letters without tears. One of the letters, in clear and sad words said: "Whither on earth the future of this country?"

In both cases, their fathers were my boyhood friends. The friend who went from the South to North Korea had been a senior member of the party organ in a local city in North Korea when he was detained in a concentration camp for no obvious reason. He died there in the eighties. He was a brilliant member of the underground South Korean Workers' Party. The other friend used to work for a jewelry shop in Tokyo and was repatriated to North Korea with his family in hope of receiving a college education in North Korea. He was a very serious man and studied hard all by himself with the help of the radio courses of "W" University in Japan. His father died of disease soon after their arrival in North Korea. Being the eldest of the five brothers, he was forced to earn his living and abandon his education in North Korea. I have never seen any of their children. Likewise, I should be a stranger to them. I have no idea how they got my name and address. However, my heart broke with the thought of the families who sent me an SOS in their last hope for survival.

I have been informed that the letters received by the Japanese Red Cross from the Korean repatriates in North Korea asking for information on whereabouts of their parents and relatives in Japan has reached some 8,000. Why are they asking the Red Cross for help when the pro-Pyongyang Korean Federation is, in fact, responsible? Of course, this is a clear manifestation of the loss of credibility of the pro-Pyongyang group, and the general awareness that it is merely acting as a puppet of the North Korean regime under Kim Jung Il. The Korean repatriates in North Korea all hate the pro- Pyongyang group in Japan who tricked them into going to North Korea. I sincerely wish to appeal to the North Korean supporters to stop the hypocrisy and to return to conscientiousness as soon as possible. It is still not too late. Have the North Korea supporters in Japan ever heeded, during the past forty years they have been in operation, the real voices from North Korea of those repatriated? You have merely repeated in your newspaper and other publications the huge lie of the North Korean propaganda: "they all live happily in North Korea without any want."

A story of my brother Taewon appeared in the "Daily Workers," together with photographs of him, saying that he was receiving a good education and was very happy in North Korea. Actually, he was sent to a concentration camp on charges of spying and he died there of malnutrition. His wife was forced to divorce him and her two children were adopted away by other families.
  I have made a number of appeals to the pro- North Korea Federation in Japan for further information about my brother and have not received any serious response to date. Their indirect verbal reply was that the state has no obligation to account for the death of individuals. Then, why don't they write in the "Daily Worker" that the state has no obligation to account for a repatriate's death in North Korea? I would like to take this opportunity to once again ask the pro-Pyongyang group to send us the corpse of my brother for burial. Don't you realize that you are responsible for his tragedy and he was happy in Japan with his caring parents when he moved to North Korea on your invitation? Don't you care that his old mother, who has not been informed of her son's death, is still waiting for him to return to his home town of Cheju island in South Korea? How do you expect me to explain his death to her?

My brother was betrayed and mercilessly murdered by North Korea which he believed to be his "only fatherland." The pro-Pyongyang Korean Federation in Japan know well that my brother's tragedy was the same fate shared by many others.

I hear that the pro-Pyongyang Federation in Japan has recently launched a full-swing campaign to assist the flood victims in North Korea. I have no objection to the campaign. But what about those Korean repatriates in North Korea today? They suffered from discrimination in Japan, a foreign land, and so went to North Korea, a land of hope. Socially discriminated in North Korea, "a paradise," they are now much worse off than they would have been if they stayed in Japan. The pro-Pyongyang Korean Federation assist those Korean repatriates who are in miserable conditions in North Korea.

Even Kim Il Sung had reservations for about using the propaganda phrase "a paradise on earth." But, T.S. Han, the Chairman of the pro-Pyongyang Korean Federation, used the phrase for the first time at its 4th Congress in May, 1958, and continued to repeat it shamelessly throughout the over ten-year repatriation campaign. This evil campaign supplied almost 100,000 Koreans to North Korea as slaves. It is not too late. The pro-Pyongyang Korean leaders, out of their love of humanity, must take heed of the crying voices of pain of those Korean repatriates in North Korea whom they deceived into bondage. It goes without saying that the pro-Pyongyang Korean leadership in Japan is directly responsible for their repatriation from Japan and their tragedy in North Korea today, so it must take heed: help them now, and save yourselves. It is not still too late.