28 April 2006

North Korean asylum in the US

My understanding is that a North Korean refugee now has automatic asylum in the United States, providing that he/she did not become a South Korean by settling there first.

However, some are even trying to change that, and make former North Koreans in South Korea eligible for US asylum as well, citing what they claim to be the pro-North tendencies of the current leftist South Korean regime, and its alleged persecution of former North Koreans who try to speak up on North Korean human rights issues. About twenty such individuals are awaiting asylum in the US at this time.

These allegations are serious, and could make or break South Korea's reputation as a free, democratic society. The consensus here in Little Havana West (AKA Koreatown) is that the current South Korean regime is no more than a North Korean puppet, and that indeed these former North Koreans in South Korea deserve to be granted asylum in the United States. However, let's remember that Koreatown is politically on the far-right fringe, both by South Korean and American standards.

I was disheartened to hear that a former North Korean military officer, from South Korea, was granted US asylum today by the W regime; while he does face political persecution if returned to North Korea, that is no longer a point, as he is a South Korean, and South Korea is where he belongs. I was unable to find an English-language news article on him.

However, I was able to find another article, which states that even pro-refugee organizations critical of the South Korean government are agreeing with me. It cites the case of a former North Korean woman with South Korean nationality, who is using South Korea's alleged persecution of her viewpoints as reason for seeking US asylum. This article states that her case is most likely built on her inability to deal with South Korean authorities on everyday matters and making mistakes, instead of real persecution; the case, the organizations conclude, threaten the images of both South Korea and the refugees.

Korea Times

In any case, I am sick of the Korean Peninsula being treated as a right-wing fringe cause celebre, like Cuba, as opposed to a humanitarian crisis that it ought to be treated as.