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American held in North Korea…again

April 22, 2011

"Well, hey there, c'mon in. Welcome to friendly Chosun!"

From the BBC –

North Korea confirms US citizen is arrested

North Korea has confirmed that it has arrested a US citizen and is preparing to charge him with “committing a crime” against the country.

Jun Young-su was arrested in November last year, the official KCNA news agency said.

The US state department announced the arrest on Tuesday and is calling for the detainee’s release on humanitarian grounds.

Here’s a thought, and it’s going to come across as a tad harsh but hear me out, leave him the fuck there. Of course, ask politely for his release but when the Norks inevitably respond with demands for a senior US official to be dispatched to North Korea to talk about it stump up whatever ransom demands they have, hang up the phone.

Perhaps this guy doesn’t pay much attention to current affairs related to the Korean peninsula or else he may have been more aware of the kind of welcome the North Korean regime offers to American citizens when they waltz into the country unannounced. A little over two years ago, on the 17th March 2009, the independent American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were detained by North Korean border guards when they were found to have illegally crossed into North Korea from China. One quick Nork show trial later and they were sentenced to 12 years hard labour before being rescued by none other than Bill Clinton in August that year after the ex-Prez travelled to North Korea to secure their release and hand an unavoidable propaganda victory to the regime there. As ill-advised as their meanderings near the NK border were, they were nothing compared to the case of Robert Park, a Korean-American missionary who, on December 25th 2009, reportedly walked into North Korea across the frozen Tumen river (bordering China) proclaiming that he was an American citizen bringing “God’s love” to North Korea and carrying a letter addressed to Kim Jong-il that called on the Dear Leader to repent for his sins. “I proclaim Christ’s love and forgiveness towards you today. God promises mercy and clemency for those who repent. He loves you and wants to save you and all of North Korea today”. Needless to say, Park was swiftly arrested and allegedly subjected to beatings and sexual abuse by his interrogators before producing a false confession in which he stated that he had got the DPRK all wrong, it was a lovely place after all, and he’d been taken in by the West’s propaganda. North Korean authorities released Park in February 2010 and he returned to the US, though by all accounts he has been utterly mindfucked by his ordeal and has since attempted suicide. One month after Park’s messianic stroll into North Korea another American citizen, this time a mere ESL teacher not unlike yours truly (though there the similarity ends), was also detained in NK following his own illegal border crossing. Aijalon Gomes of Boston, Massachusetts, alarmingly perhaps inspired by Robert Park’s actions, wilfully ventured into North Korea on some vague personal religious mission to liberate the enslaved people there. Gomes received a sentence of 8 years hard labour. He did not produce a forced confession like Park but he was apparently hospitalized in Pyongyang after he attempted suicide in detention. In the end, the Norks agreed to release Aijalon Gomes on the condition that none other than Jimmy Carter flew to North Korea to collect him. Little has been heard of Gomes since his return to the United States upon his release from North Korean captivity on August 26th 2010.

It’s likely that Jun Young-su was more than aware of the risk he was taking. Like Park and Gomes, Jun is reportedly another shiny-eyed zealot intent on a quixotic quest of modern Christian martyrdom. Now, Robert Park and Aijalon Gomes apparently did not want their government or any other agency to intervene on their behalf and bring them home, which suggests that Jun Young-su is likely to share this same sentiment. Henceforth, I propose the government of the United States should honour the wishes of such individuals on this matter and cease any stringent diplomatic effort to have them released. The North Korean regime merely wields these hostages as bargaining chips in order to elicit concessions, blandishments and precisely the kind of high-level visits by US officials that lend a wholly undeserved patina of political legitimacy to their totalitarian system. In short, it’s just more hassle than it’s worth to keep bailing these guys out and three such incidents in the duration of a single year is bad enough. Those wishing to help in efforts to liberate the North Korean people would be advised to direct their energy into far more sensible efforts that don’t involve sauntering into a hostile rogue state, hollering about Jesus and waving bibles at the Nork soldiers that will swiftly intercept them. There are networks of Christian volunteer groups coordinating the assistance of those fleeing the DPRK via China that provide safe houses and other aid. There are also the volunteer campaigns in South Korea sending balloons filled with dollars, food and propaganda leaflets floating into North Korean territory and several radio networks operated by North Korean defectors. Helping these groups and encouraging the relevant regional powers to increase outside pressure on North Korea are far more effective means of combating the foul gangster regime there and are largely without the risks of the reckless individual gestures above whereby propaganda victories are delivered straight into the grubby paws of Kim Jong-il and his ruling clan.

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