Archive for the south Korean human rights hypocrisy Category

EDITORIAL: Excessive violence by police at Sewol anniversary events [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in Police brutality, Police State, Protest action, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy on April 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Posted on : Apr.20,2015

With South Korean citizens organizing a series of events to commemorate the anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry, the police seemed resolved to brutally put down these peaceful demonstrations and marches. The same government that did such a poor job of rescuing passengers on the ferry is wielding a terrible power as it tramples on the grief of the victims’ families and other South Koreans and as it suppresses the justified appeals for the truth.

During a memorial event on Apr. 16, the first anniversary of the sinking, the police responded with excessive force, sealing off Gwanghwamun Square behind a barricade of buses and firing tear gas at marchers. During this process, the mother of one student who died in the sinking sustained four broken ribs.

During the nationwide public assembly for the anniversary of the Sewol tragedy on Apr. 18, the police mustered around 470 vehicles and 13,700 officers to completely wall of Gyeongbok Palace, Gwanghwamun Square, and Sejong street intersection.

The police indiscriminately fired water cannons and tear gas and hauled off around a hundred members of the victims’ families who tried to protest the hard-line response. Reportedly, the police dragged off a university student by her hair. These are grim scenes that evoke the days before democratization [sic].

Citing the inconvenience to motorists caused by protestors marching down the streets and violence including attacks on police officers, the police insist that their harsh response was unavoidable. But there is nothing unusual about rerouting traffic in downtown Seoul because of various events, such as the marathon that was held last weekend.

Mourning a national tragedy and calling for a thorough investigation is protected by freedom of expression. If anything, in a democracy, this kind of expression ought to be protected more than any other kind of event.

If it were not for the excessive police response, no confrontations or physical clashes would have occurred in the first place. Even worse, using bus barricades to cordon off traffic and block demonstrations is a clear violation of the constitution, according to a decision by the Constitutional Court. The explanation offered by the police is no more than an excuse, and a flimsy one at that.

“The unnecessary use of force by South Korean police against families of the Sewol ferry tragedy is an insult to the victims and a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” global human rights advocacy group Amnesty International said.

“The use of chemical irritants primarily to disperse peaceful protesters [. . . ] is unlawful under international legal standards,” the group also said.

It is mortifying to consider what the international community, which is observing the anniversary of the Sewol tragedy, will make of such a situation.

What’s the point of President Park diligently traveling to foreign countries? A single picture of police violently clamping down on citizens gathered together to mourn a national tragedy degrades South Korea’s international prestige at a single blow.

The surprisingly brutal attitude of the police would be inconceivable, were it not for the attitude with which the Park administration has responded to the Sewol disaster. If the government had made a sincere effort to get to the bottom of the tragedy, such a situation would never have occurred.

For an entire year after the accident, the government has stonewalled the launch of the Special Sewol Investigative Committee and delayed the salvaging of the sunken ferry. Finally, now that it is facing massive criticism and resistance, it has taken drastic measures to muzzle the public.

When these events are viewed in this light, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the rash behavior of the police was directed by, or at least received the tacit approval of, core figures in the current administration. The figures who came up with the idea of suppressing the protests must be identified and held responsible.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Editorial link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/687582.html

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South Korea deports Korean-American woman accused of supporting the North [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-communism, DPR Korea, Encirclement of China, Japan, Kim Jong Un, North wind campaign, Obama, Pentagon, Pyongyang, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Western nations' human rights distortions on January 17, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Ben McGrath
13 January 2015

South [sic] Korea deported Korean-American Shin Eun-mi on Saturday for supposedly making pro-North [sic] Korean comments. She arrived back in Los Angeles the same day, US time, and will be barred from returning to Korea for five years. Shin’s case is just the latest in Seoul’s attacks on democratic rights.

President Park Geun-hye’s government accused Shin of violating South Korea’s draconian National Security Act. Shin gave public talks around the country with Hwang Seon, the former deputy spokeswoman of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), the forerunner of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), which the government, via the Constitutional Court, forcibly disbanded in December. The government is considering issuing an arrest warrant for Hwang.

Shin said last Wednesday, as she appeared for questioning by prosecutors: “I can guarantee that I have done nothing that violates the National Security Act. I have made no pro-North Korea remarks in public. There are no such remarks in my book, either.” Shin was referring to her book, A Korean-American Ajumma Goes to North Korea, which detailed her trips to North Korea. “Ajumma” is a Korean word referring to a middle-aged or married woman. Shin visited the North six times from October 2011 and published the book in 2012.

Right-wing organizations filed a complaint against Shin and Hwang after a November 19 talk at Seoul’s Jogyesa Temple, claiming that the two women painted North Korea in a positive light. During the discussion, Shin said that in North Korea, “people seemed to be filled with expectation and hope about the young leader (Kim Jong-un).”

The complaints against the two women received more attention when a 17-year-old boy attacked Shin and Hwang with a homemade bomb at a lecture the women held in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, in December. No-one was seriously injured but two people received minor burns. The teenager, hailed as a hero by extreme-right groups, is currently awaiting trial.

The government’s claims that Shin undermined “national security” are farcical. Her book on North Korea was even selected as suggested reading by South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Shin said: “If I did (violate the National Security Act), why did the government select my book as a recommended one in the first place? I just gave lectures and filmed a documentary based on the book.”

Another comment by Shin points far more as to why she was targeted by the government. “Even though it is the 21st century, are we not seeing these pro-communist frame-ups, spy frame-ups?” she asked. “It is a ballad that I heard from when I attended kindergarten in the 60s.” Several UPP members were arrested last year and accused, on the basis of fabricated evidence, of plotting a rebellion in support of North Korea.

Seoul has whipped up these red scares not simply as a turn away from democracy. It is bound up with South Korea’s alignment with the United States and its “pivot to Asia,” which is aimed at economically undermining and militarily surrounding China. This includes ramping up tensions on the Korean Peninsula against China’s ally North Korea — and risking war with Pyongyang. The government fears that any anti-war sentiment could be used to oppose these growing war plans. Shin’s greatest crime, as far as the government is concerned, is that she presented North Koreans as human beings who have the same hopes and desires as average South Koreans…

Seoul deepened its military cooperation with the US over the past year. This included signing a trilateral intelligence sharing agreement with the US and Japan, expressing support for a Thermal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea and postponing the handover to Seoul of US operational control over the South Korean military. In the event of war, the United States will take command of the South’s military.

Seoul also backed the Obama administration’s claims that North Korea was responsible for hacking at Sony Pictures Entertainment and supported new US sanctions, calling them “appropriate.” The South Korean media presented Washington’s accusations as fact despite a lack of evidence.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki raised mild criticisms of South Korea over Shin’s deportation. While claiming at a daily press briefing on Friday that South Korea “has shown a consistent and longstanding commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights,” Psaki said the US is “concerned that the national security law, as interpreted and applied in some cases, limits freedom of expression and restricts access to the Internet.”

This “criticism” has nothing to do with a genuine concern for free speech. It is particularly hypocritical coming from a government that has been exposed as spying on and violating the democratic rights of its population and millions of others internationally on a daily basis. Instead, the US is using this issue to continue to pressure Seoul to work more closely with Japan in the US-directed war preparations against China.

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/13/kore-j13.html

Prospect for North-South Relations Depends on Park Geun Hye: CPRK Open Questionnaire [KCNA]

Posted in DMZ, DPR Korea, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Lee Myung-bak, Nukes, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on April 25, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Pyongyang, April 23 (KCNA)

— The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) sent an open questionnaire to Park Geun Hye Wednesday asking her to give responsible answers to the questions as to whether she stands for the improvement of the north-south relations or seeks to escalate confrontation and whether she wants reunification and peace against war.

Recalling that months-long Key Resolve and Foal Eagle war exercises for invading the north are over, but the south Korean authorities’ confrontation with their compatriots and moves for a war against the north are going on and their anti-reunification hysteria under the signboard of “unification” is flouting the nation and disturbing the world, the questionnaire goes on:

1. What kind of “unification” does Park mean? Confrontation of the social systems means one side swallowing up the other side and the latter being swallowed up by the former, the showdown which is bound to lead to a war. Does she want this?

Park seems to call for the confrontation of the social systems, mistaking Korea for Germany. This is a day-dream which will never come true. The confrontation of the social systems precisely means a war. Does Park really stand for the war?

[2.] Does Park have the face to talk about “confidence-building process” while desperately pursuing the policy for confrontation with fellow countrymen?

When she met a head of state of a certain country, she talked rubbish that “the north should be made to change” and “if one hundred attempts to bring it down fail, one hundred and one attempts should be made to succeed.”

Does this mean the “confidence-building process” on the lips of Park?

Confrontation and confidence can never go together. What does she choose between the two?

3. What is the difference between the “north policy” of the present south Korean regime and Lee Myung Bak’s watchword “no nukes, opening and 3 000 dollars”? Does she wish to drive the north-south relations to a catastrophe just as traitor Lee did?

Park is blustering that she is fully ready to ensure “security of the social system” in the north and support its economy in cooperation with the international community once the north dismantles its nukes, asserting the “issue of the north’s nukes is a stumbling block lying in the way of making arrangements for the era of unification.”

Park’s claim that the “north should dismantle its nukes first” is nothing different from the above-said watchword of Lee.

To insist on the issue of the “north’s nukes” as regards the inter-Korean relations is little short of denying the process to mend the relations.

Park should explicitly clarify her stand: whether to persistently bedevil the north-south relations by following the above-said watchword or to opt for repairing the relations.

4. Park was reported to have said the “building of a world without nuclear weapons” should start on the Korean peninsula. Then, is she willing to cease staging with outside forces north-targeted nuclear war drills in south Korea with U.S. nuclear war hardware involved?

The DPRK proposed turning the Korean peninsula into a nuclear free zone long ago.

It is none other than the U.S. and south Korean puppet forces that have staged madcap nuclear war exercises against the north by introducing more than 1000 nuclear weapons, turning south Korea into the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal in utter disregard of the north’s offer.

Nevertheless, Park is finding fault with the north’s nuclear deterrent for self-defence while keeping mum about the U.S. nukes for aggression. This is, indeed, sheer sophism.

The U.S. nuclear blackmail and war drills targeting the north are the root cause of the escalating tensions on the peninsula and the worsened inter-Korean relations.

Park should now talk what she has to as regards the U.S. nukes and make a bold decision to put an end to the north-targeted nuclear war drills staged together with the U.S.

To this end, is she willing to announce the cancellation of Ulji Freedom Guardian drills scheduled to be staged again between August and September?

5. Can Park make a decision to pull down the concrete wall built by the “yusin” regime in the area south of the Military Demarcation Line to demolish the barrier between the north and the south and abolish “Security Law”?

The concrete wall dividing the peninsula into two parts is a barrier of division and confrontation conceived by Park Chung Hee after visiting the Berlin Wall during his visit to the then West Germany 50 years ago.

The ill-famed “Security Law”, an anti-reunification fascist law, is also a barrier of distrust, social and cultural barrier and a factor of severance and isolation as it is meant to antagonize compatriots and freeze the bonds between the north and the south.

If the Korean nation is truly to usher in a new era of peaceful reunification, it is imperative to pull down the barriers of confrontation against reunification, the leftover of the outdated Cold War in the last century, as early as possible.

Can Park make such a decision?

6. Does Park think the “aid to women in pregnancy and malnourished children” would help de-escalate the tensions and improve the inter-Korean relations?

The “aid to women in pregnancy and malnourished children” touted by her is an insult and mockery of the people in the DPRK including children and women who receive the greatest special benefits as the king of the country and its flowers thanks to the great politics of love for the people.

If the inter-Korean relations are to be mended, it is necessary to defuse the acute political and military confrontation.

The DPRK in the historic New Year Address clarified an important principled stand on improving the inter-Korean relations.

Does Park have the willingness to accept the proposal and appeal of the DPRK, though belatedly, not pretending ignorance of them?

7. It is self-contradiction to talk about “NGO exchange” and “cooperation” while totally blocking the inter-Korean relations, isn’t it?

Park is persistently clinging to the “May 24 steps” taken by Lee Myung Bak, a heinous confrontation maniac, to bedevil the inter-Korean relations. This is as foolish an act as tarnishing her image and binding her hands and feet by herself. This behavior only gives the impression that she is just the same confrontation element as Lee Myung Bak.

There is neither reason nor pretext whatsoever for her to keep the long bankrupt “May 24 steps” in force any longer.

Does Park have the willingness to lift the steps?

8. Is it more urgent to turn the hotspots around the five islands in the West Sea into peace waters than to build a “world peace park” in the Demilitarized Zone?

The urgent issue along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) to be settled by the north and the south in actuality is to turn hotspots around the five islands in the West Sea into peace waters.

If Park has a “plan” to turn the MDL area into a peace zone, she should pay attention to this issue, first of all.

Does Park have intention to turn the hotspots around the five islands in the West Sea into peace waters?

9. Who is the arch criminal violating the agreement on stopping the smear campaign and escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula through political and military provocations?

The south Korean authorities now claim that the DPRK is violating the agreement made at the north-south high-level contact and slandering the south. This is just like a guilty party filing the suit first.

It is none other than the south Korean authorities and Park herself who are slinging mud at the DPRK.

Does Park have the face to grumble that the “north is reneging on the promise to halt the smear campaign and provocations”?

10. Does Park have the willingness to respect and implement the historic July 4 joint statement, June 15 joint declaration and October 4 declaration?

These are the great programmes and landmarks for national reunification common to the nation.

Is Park ready to show her will to respect and implement them, though belatedly?

If Park has a sincere stand to promote the confidence between the north and the south and open the door for peace and reunification, she should give correct answers to the solemn questions put by the DPRK on behalf of the era and the nation in the eyes of all fellow countrymen and the whole world, pondering over them, questionnaire stressed, adding:
The prospect for the inter-Korean relations entirely depends on the attitude of Park Geun Hye. -0-

KCNA homepage (with access to English-language materials): http://www.kcna.kp

S Korean Unified Progressive Party (UPP) lawmaker Lee Seok-ki sentenced to 12 years in prison on insurrection charge [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in DPR Korea, INS, Juche Idea, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy on February 22, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Convicted on anonymous testimony??? Kangaroo court witch-hunt BS! Free Lee Seok-ki! – Zuo Shou

Feb 18, 2014

* Court accepts most evidence from politicized National Intelligence Service and its unnamed informer *

By Hong Yong-duk, south Gyeonggi correspondent

A court found Unified Progressive Party (UPP) lawmaker Lee Seok-ki guilty of plotting an insurrection to overthrow the government, sentencing him to 12 years in prison and banning him from running for office for 10 years. It has been 34 years since then-opposition leader Kim Dae-jung was convicted of the crime.

The court also convicted the other six defendants – including Kim Hong-yeol, chair of the Gyeonggi Province branch of the UPP – of most of the charges they were facing and sentenced them to 4-7 years in prison and banned them from running for office for 4-7 years.

On Feb. 17, Kim Jeong-woon, presiding judge of the 12th criminal division of the Suwon District Court, gave Lee a harsh sentence: 12 years in prison, and a 10-year ban on political activity. Lee had been charged with plotting an insurrection, inciting others to participate in the plot, and violating the National Security Law.

For the other defendants, prison sentences and bans on political activities were 7 years for Kim Hong-yeol, Lee Sang-ho, Cho Yang-won, and Kim Geun-rae, 6 years for Hong Sun-seok, and 4 years for Hong Dong-geun.

During sentencing on Monday, the court sided with the prosecutors in finding Lee and the other defendants guilty of most of the charges – including plotting an insurrection. “They committed the grave crime of [plotting] an armed insurrection in the middle of Seoul,” the judge said. The sentence came five months after the National Intelligence Service (NIS) took its investigation public with a raid on the houses and offices of ten individuals, including Lee, on Aug. 28, 2013.

The main question under debate in the case was whether there had actually been a conspiracy to carry out an insurrection. Throughout the trial, the prosecutors and the attorneys for the defense debated whether the objective of the 130 members of the so-called ‘revolutionary organization’ (RO) – who met twice in May 2013 in Gonjiam, Gyeonggi Province, and the Mapo district of Seoul – intended to subvert the constitution. The debate concerned whether the members were part of an organization that had the specific purpose of plotting an insurrection; whether the timing and method of this alleged insurrection were specifically defined; and whether the members had deliberated and agreed to this.

On Monday, the court came to the conclusion that the testimony and evidence of the [unnamed] informer satisfied all of the conditions for a conspiracy to overthrow the government…

…Throughout the trial, the question of whether the RO really existed was debated. On this point, the court ruled, “the 130 people [who attended the two meetings] were members of the RO organization, which had a command system that was grounded in juche ideology.” While the prosecutors referred to the RO as “an underground revolutionary organization that had accepted juche ideology,” the counsel for the defense countered that this was a fiction that the NIS had concocted from conjecture and the testimony of its [unnamed] informer…

…the court accepted the majority of the key evidence submitted by the prosecutors, including [disputed] recordings, the [similarly disputed] transcript of the recordings, and the testimony of the NIS’s [anonymous] informer. During the trial, questions had been raised about the admissibility of the transcript of the recording of the May meeting, which the NIS had submitted. There were 720 errors in the transcript, with “shrine at Jeoldu Mountain” being changed to “shrine of the decisive struggle”. The two phrases sound somewhat similar in Korean.

…The NIS investigation [allegedly] began with information provided by the [anonymous] informer.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/624674.html

SPECIAL REPORT – Fleeing discrimination at home, S. Koreans seek asylum abroad [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in Australia, Canada, France, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy on January 24, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

According to a poll [see below], over 60% of south Korean young people would live in another country if they had the chance.

Why is the Western media not vociferously denouncing south Korea for their citizens seeking refuge abroad, as they ritually do for DPR Korea?

And with the hysteria getting whipped up around Russia before the Winter Olympics, are Russians getting asylum abroad due to anti-LGBT persecution like south Koreans? – Zuo Shou

– Conscientious objectors and sexual minorities leave a country that is still fairly intolerant of difference –

“Things are so bad that people like me are recognized as refugees.” – Lee Ye-da, south Korean LGBT refugee

November 9, 2013

By Park Hyun-jung, Hankyoreh 21 reporter

…Lee, a South Korean national, lives in France as a refugee. His refugee status was recognized by the French Office for Protection of Refugees and Expatriates (OFPRA) two months before his meeting with the Hankyoreh and seven months after he first submitted his application.

■  ‘Traitor to his country’?  

About one year ago, Lee departed from Incheon International Airport, passing through Moscow before making his way to Paris. He left two months before he was scheduled to begin his military service, a national duty for South Korean males. Having decided that his convictions would not permit him to join the armed forces, he spent 700,000 won (US$660) on a one way ticket to Paris. He had no intention of returning to South Korea, he said. His destination, France, is noted for its strong system of social welfare, and he thought that if he was not granted refugee status he might be able to file an appeal. If worse came to worst, he could leave for another country, or maybe hide out in the forest. He is not a member of any particular religious faith or any persecuted sexual orientation. He has never worked with any social activist group.

“I learned about Buddhism in middle school, and I vowed that I would never take another life,” Lee wrote on his refugee application. “The mandatory military service system trains us to kill people, which goes against my convictions. In South Korea, the military service duty is like a rite of passage leading to adulthood. Most people regard it as a ‘sacred duty’. People who have completed it create discrimination between ‘men who have served’ and ‘those who have not’ [including women and disabled persons]. Conscientious objectors in South Korea are stigmatized as ‘traitors to their country’ and ‘people with a criminal record.’ These two labels follow them wherever they go, and they are discriminated against.”

Abandoning his citizenship was not always Lee’s plan. It was two years ago that he began seriously questioning whether or not to serve in the military. At the time, he had never even heard of conscientious objection. But his resistance to joining the military dated back to childhood. He found it impossible to accept that he had to carry a gun when he could not bear to kill even a defenseless insect. He inquired about doing medical instead of combat service. This was when he learned why no alternative system had been created, and who conscientious objectors were.

■ ‘Scared? Of course I was.’

While on the plane to France, he finished a book he had started in Korea. Titled “The Language of Peace I Had to Swallow,” it was written by conscientious objector and peace researcher Im Jae-seong. Lee, who was born in 1991, saw parallels between his own life and the events of that year. His eyes filled with tears- rather than giving him comfort, it only made him feel sorrow.

In April 1991, a Myongji University freshman named Kang Kyung-dae was beaten to death by a plainclothes policeman with a metal pipe. He had been fighting for lower university tuition, and the policeman was part of a team cracking down on protesters. The following May 4, a private first class named Park Seok-jin, a member of the first company of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s first riot squad, left his workplace and issued a statement of conscientious objection, declaring that he could “no longer fight against students and members of the public irrespective of my own will.” The state decided Park was a criminal. He was arrested and charged with violating the Establishment of Riot Police Units Act. Eventually, he was found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months in prison suspended for three years.

“All I did was not go into the military, and I became a criminal. All those people, all that work, and nothing’s really changed. . . .”

He left the airport and headed into Paris. After finding a place to stay, he immediately started inquiring about refugee applications. There are a number of groups in Paris that offer assistance. All Lee had at the time was the 500,000 won (US$470) his mother had given him. He sometimes slept out on the street when he couldn’t find a bed. After about five months of waiting, he was finally allowed to stay at a residence for refugee applicants. France forbids applicants from seeking employment, but it does provide support for living expenses.

Meanwhile, Lee’s mother was pleading with him. He could just close his eyes and do the service, and then work afterwards to fix the things that were wrong with it. Sometimes, she would angrily ask him why he would leave his country and family to avoid the military when every other young man just went and did it. “Scared? Of course I was,” Lee said. “My English was far from perfect, and my French was even worse. But I did not want to go into the military. And I did not want my freedom taken away by the military.”

The freedom to not go into the military – is it crazy to dream of not being put behind bars because you refuse to join? Since 2008, the UN Human Rights Council and the European Court of Human Rights have viewed punishment of conscientious objectors as “arbitrary detention.” Oh Jae-chang, an attorney with the law firm Haemaru, said they do so because “they view conscientious objection as being like freedom to migrate, a right that all humans should enjoy.”

“That this kind of arbitrary detention keeps happening is a shame to civilized countries,” Oh said.

This past Oct. 8, another young man declared that he would not be doing his service. Park Jeong-hun, 27, is an activist with Alba Yeondae, a group working on behind of young part-time workers. On the day of his scheduled induction, Park held a press conference in front of Daehan Gate in central Seoul to declare, “The country that I wish to defend is not a barbaric place like this.”

Early this year, fifty conscientious objectors whose guilty verdicts had been upheld by the Supreme Court filed a petition with the UN Human Rights Committee charging the South Korean government with defying international norms and arbitrarily detailing conscientious objectors.

Lee Sang-min, who intends to seek refugee status abroad after graduating from university to avoid his mandatory military service.  

■ Where are South Korea’s refugees?

The idea of applying for refugee status came to Lee from a friend, “Lee Sang-min,” who shared similar concerns.

Sang-min had also resolved not to go into the military. His plan had been to go overseas as soon as he finished university and apply for refugee status. But something happened the year he was to graduate from high school: the Yongsan tragedy of 2009, which saw six people lose their lives when a redevelopment protest turned into an inferno.

“The protesting residents went up there [on the roof] to survive the demolition for redevelopment,” he said. “They were ordinary people living ordinary lives up until the day the state got involved with its project. The state drove them over the cliff, and it was shocking to see the whole thing being blamed on them.”

As he began considering the option of refusing to serve, his first thought was to emigrate. He was looking at the sojourn qualifications when he found out about refugee status. At the time, the media was reporting about a 28-year-old man named Kim Kyung-hwan who had had his status as a refugee recognized in 2009 by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. Kim was a conscientious objector who was also homosexual.

From an early age, he seemed to see the country differently from other children. He can remember that day when he was an elementary school student, and his homework assignment was to memorize the pledge to the national flag.

“Are you truly prepared to dedicate your body and mind to the endless glory of the homeland and people?” his father asked him.

Even as a child, he thought, “I might sacrifice a few things, but I don’t know about everything.”

Today, Sang-min’s father tells his son he “can’t bear the thought” of telling him to go into the military. But Sang-min’s father has suggested the prison option, worried about how his son will fare in a strange country. The mother is still having trouble accepting her only son’s decision.

■ Suffering of Korean sexual minorities

Ye-da is not the only South Korean to gain refugee status this year. Last April, “Kim In-su,” a 34-year-old gay man who also refused to enlist, had status granted in Australia. Recently, some transgender individuals have also had refugee status granted. All adamantly refused to give any identifying information – going so far as to ask that their current country of residence not be listed.

“It looks like the countries took a number of factors into account in granting refugee status,” said Ryu Min-hee, an attorney with the group Korean Society of Law and Policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, which submitted an opinion on the current situation in South Korea during the review process. “This includes the very strict conditions for gender reassignment, the difficulty finding employment when your appearance doesn‘t match the gender listed on your identification, the likelihood of financial problems because insurance does not cover gender reassignment surgery – which can be very costly – and the lack of any legal recourse for LGBT individuals, such as anti-discrimination or hate crimes legislation.”

At the moment, no laws exist that could allow transgender individuals to change their legal gender. Rulings were made by individual courts after a 2006 Supreme Court precedent allowing such a change. In most cases, the courts have followed the guidelines for handling “gender modification permit requests for transgender individuals” as drafted by the Supreme Court (Registration of Family Relationship regulation No. 346). According to those guidelines, one of the conditions for granting a permit is that an individual must have “external sexual organs opposite to those of his/her biological sex.”

In 2008, the National Human Rights Commission submitted a recommendation to the Chief Justice asking that the regulation be amended, claiming it “stands to violate human rights by demanding that individuals who have already taken medical measures for gender reassignment, including hormonal treatments, go so far as to have plastic surgery on their genitalia.”

LGBT individuals were granted refugee status that year as well. In Australia, the Refugee Review Tribunal gave refugee status to a gay South Korean man with transgender identification. In its ruling, it described South Korea as a conservative country where homosexuality was not illegal and LGBT individuals enjoyed some protections from discrimination, but where gay marriage was not permitted and coming out was difficult.

Five years have passed since then.

■ Emigrants are actually refugees

As the years pass without change, they seem to throw cold water on any hopes that South Korean society might change.

“I know that things don’t change easily, but I want to live my life fighting,” said Ye-da. “But they drive you over the edge, without any kind of compromise. What drove me away was the fact that something that other people look at as ‘no big deal’ was driving me over the edge.”

Sang-min offered a slightly more realist perspective. “Will our country ever become a place where people help each other and build up welfare?” he asked. “It’ll change, a bit at a time, but history shoes that it takes something like a century or two. So not much is going to change while I’m around. I want to go somewhere where I can be free and live a self-sufficient life as a farmer.”

A few people who are not conscientious objectors or LGBT individuals have left or hope to leave. Between Sept. 16 and 23, the Hankyoreh and Dooit Survey polled 7,707 people in their teens and older on whether they wanted to live in another country if they had a chance. Fully 60.8% of respondents said “yes,” nearly three times as many as the 22.7% who said “no.” This raises the question: how many of the roughly 15,000 suicides in the country each year are ones who saw no shred of hope?

“In the case of gay people, it’s not refugee status, but I’ve heard of people making families and settling down in countries like the Netherlands where gay marriage is legal,” said Im Tae-hoon, director of the Center for Military Human Rights.

“Parents with developmentally disabled children leave for Canada, which has a better support system,” Im added.
■ ‘You don’t need to hide my face or my name’ 

“Words and Bow” author Hong Se-hwa also lived as a refugee in France after receiving political asylum.

“Time passed, but nothing changed – I was still someone who thought in Korean,” Hong recalled. “My children grew up in a country they didn‘t choose because of their father, and they ended up thinking in French. So when I was finally able to return to Korea, I went back, but they had to stay behind.”

It seemed almost certain that Lee Ye-da would insist on anonymity, so it was a surprise when he said, “You don’t need to hide my face or my name.” He did apologize to his family, and he worried about the scathing criticism that was sure to head his way.

“You see a lot of kids like me in Korea,” he said. “Things are so bad that people like me are recognized as refugees in other countries. They wonder if even one person will come out and say, ‘I feel the same way.’ They know they can’t change things by themselves, but they believe in creating the possibility of change…”

Excerpted; full article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/610223.html

Ro Su Hui Goes Back to S. Korea via Panmunjom [YouTube]

Posted in DPR Korea, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Korean Reunification, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy on July 20, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

 

Watch as elderly pro-reunification activist Ro Su Hui, after touring DPR Korea, is brutalized by puppet s Korean forces instantly upon returning home.

YouTube link here

How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents [Globalresearch.ca / Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Anti-communism, CIA, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Historical myths of the US, Iraq, Korean War, Libya, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Red Scare, Somalia, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy, Spain, Syria, US "War on Terror", US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, USSR, Vietnam, World War II, Yugoslavia - former FRY on January 17, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Richard Sanders

January 5, 2012

The following article by Richard Sanders published in May 2002, prior to the onslaught of the Iraq war, carefully documents the History of War Pretext Incidents.

This historical review raises an important issue: Is the Pentagon seeking to trigger military confrontation in the Persian Gulf with a view to providing a pretext and a justification to waging an all out war on the Islamic Republic of Iran?

As documented by Richard Sanders, this strategy has been used throughout American military history.

With regard to the confrontation in the Persian Gulf, is the Obama administration prepared to sacrifice the Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain with a view to triggering public support for a war on Iran on the grounds of self-defense.

Those opposed to war must address the issue of the “pretext”and “justification” to wage war.

Of relevance, the “Responsibility to Protect under a NATO “humanitarian” mandate has also been used as a thematic pretext to wage war (Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria),

The 911 Attacks and the “Global War on Terrorism” (Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan,…) not to mention the alleged “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (Iraq) have also been used to justify military intervention. Both 9/11 and WMD are being heralded as a justification for waging war on Iran, based on allegation that Iran was behind the 9/11 attacks and that Iran possesses nuclear weapons.

In the words of Richard Sanders [2002]:

“It is vitally important to expose this latest attempt [9/11] to fraudulently conceal the largely economic and geostrategic purposes of war. By asking who benefits from war, we can unmask its pretense and expose the true grounds for instigating it. By throwing light on repeated historical patterns of deception, we can promote skepticism about the government and media yarns that have been spun to encourage this war.

The historical knowledge of how war planners have tricked people into supporting past wars, is like a vaccine. We can use this understanding of history to inoculate the public with healthy doses of distrust for official war pretext narratives and other deceptive stratagems. Through such immunization programs we may help to counter our society’s susceptibility to “war fever.” ”

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, January 9, 2012

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!” Sir Walter Scott, Marmion. Canto vi. Stanza 17

Pretext n. [Latin praetextum, pp. of praetextere, to weave before, pretend, disguise; prae-, before + texere, to weave], a false reason or motive put forth to hide the real one; excuse.

Stratagem [Gr. Strategema, device or act of a general; stratos, army + agein, to lead], a trick, scheme or device used for deceiving an enemy in war.

Throughout history, war planners have used various forms of deception to trick their enemies. Because public support is so crucial to the process of initiating and waging war, the home population is also subject to deceitful stratagems. The creation of false excuses to justify going to war is a major first step in constructing public support for such deadly ventures. Perhaps the most common pretext for war is an apparently unprovoked enemy attack. Such attacks, however, are often fabricated, incited or deliberately allowed to occur. They are then exploited to arouse widespread public sympathy for the victims, demonize the attackers and build mass support for military “retaliation.”

Like schoolyard bullies who shout ‘He hit me first!’, war planners know that it is irrelevant whether the opponent really did ‘throw the first punch.’ As long as it can be made to appear that the attack was unprovoked, the bully receives license to ‘respond’ with force. Bullies and war planners are experts at taunting, teasing and threatening their opponents. If the enemy cannot be goaded into ‘firing the first shot,’ it is easy enough to lie about what happened. Sometimes, that is sufficient to rationalize a schoolyard beating or a genocidal war.

Such trickery has probably been employed by every military power throughout history. During the Roman empire, the causes of war — cassus belli — were often invented to conceal the real reasons for war. Over the millennia, although weapons and battle strategies have changed greatly, the deceitful strategem of using pretext incidents to ignite war has remained remarkably consistent.

Pretext incidents, in themselves, are not sufficient to spark wars. Rumors and allegations about the tragic events must first spread throughout the target population. Constant repetition of the official version of what happened, spawns dramatic narratives that are lodged into public consciousness. The stories become accepted without question and legends are fostered. The corporate media is central to the success of such ‘psychological operations.’ Politicians rally people around the flag, lending their special oratory skills to the call for a military “response.” Demands for “retaliation” then ring out across the land, war hysteria mounts and, finally, a war is born.

Every time the US has gone to war, pretext incidents have been used . Upon later examination, the conventional perception of these events is always challenged and eventually exposed as untrue. Historians, investigative journalists and many others, have cited eyewitness accounts, declassified documents and statements made by the perpetrators themselves to demonstrate that the provocative incidents were used as stratagems to stage-manage the march to war.

Here are a few particularly blatant examples of this phenomenon.

[Every war in the following list is thoroughly analyzed by CONTEXT, PRETEXT, RESPONSE, and REAL REASONS; and can be referenced at the original article (see bottom of post for link) – Zuo Shou]

1846: The Mexican-American War…

1898: The Spanish-American War…

1915: World War I…

1941: World War II…

1950: The Korean War…

1964: The Vietnam War…

1983: The Invasion of Grenada…

1989: The Invasion of Panama…

…CONCLUSIONS

There are dozens of other examples from US history besides those summarized here. The “Cold War” was characterized by dozens of covert and overt wars throughout the Third World. Although each had its specific pretexts, the eradication of communism was the generally-used backdrop for all rationales.100

Since the Soviet Union’s demise, US war planners have continued to use spectacular pretext incidents to spawn wars. Examples include Iraq (1991), Somalia (1992), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995) and Yugoslavia (1999).

Throughout this time, the US “War on Drugs” has been fought on many fronts. Lurking behind the excuse to squash illicit drug trafficking, are the actual reasons for financing, training and arming right-wing, US-backed regimes, whose officials have so often profited from this illegal trade. The CIA has used this trade to finance many of its covert wars.101 The “War on Drugs” has targeted numerous countries to strengthen counter-insurgency operations aimed at destroying opposition groups that oppose US corporate rule.

Military plotters know that the majority would never support their wars, if it were generally known why they were really being fought. Over the millennia, a special martial art has been deliberately developed to weave elaborate webs of deceit to create the appearance that wars are fought for “just” or “humanitarian” reasons.

If asked to support a war so a small, wealthy elite could shamelessly profit by ruthlessly exploiting and plundering the natural and human resources in far away lands, people would ‘just say no.’

We now face another broad thematic pretext for war, the so-called “War Against Terrorism.” We are told it will be waged in many countries and may continue for generations. It is vitally important to expose this latest attempt to fraudulently conceal the largely economic and geostrategic purposes of war. By asking who benefits from war, we can unmask its pretense and expose the true grounds for instigating it. By throwing light on repeated historical patterns of deception, we can promote skepticism about the government and media yarns that have been spun to encourage this war.

The historical knowledge of how war planners have tricked people into supporting past wars, is like a vaccine. We can use this understanding of history to inoculate the public with healthy doses of distrust for official war pretext narratives and other deceptive stratagems. Through such immunization programs we may help to counter our society’s susceptibility to “war fever.”

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28554