Thursday, July 23, 2009

Korean-American Youth Reports On Her Nodutdol-Sponsored Trip to North Korea: "I Finally Have a Homeland"

The following excerpt is typical of the glowing journal entries about North Korea posted on Nodutdol's website by young Korean-Americans John Choe's organization Nodutdol sponsors to visit North Korea:

“Coming to North Korea, I feel 100% accepted for the first time in my life, regardless of my ignorance of Korean language, history, and culture. I have learned to be proud to be Korean and that is a gift I will always cherish. You have inspired me to learn more about my heritage and to teach my family about what I learn. I finally have a homeland and I look forward to the day when my mother can return ‘home’ to one united Korea, her heart swelling with pride.”

To read the rest of Kei Fischer's account in the January 2009 issue of Nodutdol's e-News, click here. (The photo was taken by Kei Fischer.)

It is important that according to Wikipedia travel:

"Visiting North Korea is a bureaucratic nightmare, and your every move will be monitored by your guides. There are those who have called for a boycott on tourism to North Korea, due to human rights abuses in the country or how tourism may help finance the government. There is no official free enterprise activity in North Korea, and all tourist facilities are state-owned so the money goes directly to the government of North Korea. Others cite the possible benefits of Westerners engaging with North Korean citizens, particularly in a positive, friendly manner (i.e., contrary to the stereotypes of Westerners presented by internal propaganda) — although your guides will generally do their best to stop you from actually meeting any ordinary citizens. Ordinary North Koreans are forbidden to interact with you without authorization from the government...

In addition, there have been reports of difficulties regarding Israeli, American, British and Japanese nationals. Americans, in particular, are not normally allowed to visit North Korea, with the exception of during the Arirang Mass Games. Israelis are permitted inside, they however have to not be Jewish, which is rare since Israel is a Jewish state. Jews of all nationalities are usually forbidden inside the country due to the anti-Semtic nature of the state ideology Juche. Citizens of all other countries will need a visa, which will only be issued after your tour has been booked, approved by the North Korean authorities and paid for. Journalists (or those suspected of being journalists) require special permission, which is quite difficult to obtain."

The young people who write about their trips to North Korea for Nodutdol never mention any of the universally-accepted human rights abuses perpetrated by the North Korean dictatorship against its people. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

"Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, public executions, extra judicial and arbitrary detention, the absence of due process and the rule of law, imposition of the death penalty for political reasons, the existence of a large number of prison camps and the extensive use of forced labour;

Sanctions on citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who have been repatriated from abroad, such as treating their departure as treason leading to punishments of internment, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or the death penalty;

All-pervasive and severe restrictions on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association and on access of everyone to information, and limitations imposed on every person who wishes to move freely within the country and travel abroad;

Continued violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, in particular the trafficking of women for prostitution or forced marriage, ethnically motivated forced abortions, including by labour inducing injection or natural delivery, as well as infanticide of children of repatriated mothers, including in police detention centres and labour training camps."

No comments:

Post a Comment