July 10, 1992 | Lecture on Asia
Edited by Edwin J. Feulner, Jr., Ph.D. President, The Heritage FoundationR epresentative Stephen Solarz. - Democrat, 13th District of New York Richard V. Allen Chairman, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation Seth Cropsey Director, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation Richard Kagan, Ph.D. Hamline University, Minneapolis, Minnesota Nicholas Eberstadt American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C. Daryl Plunk Visiting Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
The Lehrman Auditorium The Heritage Foundation Washington, D.C. May 20,1992Orwell's Nightmare: Human Rights in North'Korea Dr. Edwin J. Foulner, Jr. When our Board of Trustees and Richard Allen, former National Security Advisor to President Reagan, and I decided a decade ago to create an Asian Studies Center within The Heritage Foun- dation, we placed a high priority ;@ fosti i ing a strong and ina@ring friendshipWitfi t'h-e people of Korea. Now, in noting the remarkable and positive evolution of Korean-American relations dur- ing that decade, I am tempted to take some small credit for our foresight. But I am sure that Dick woul d join me, as would our honored guest Congressman Stephen Solarz, in agreeing that it has been the Korean people, particularly those in South Korea, who deserve most, ff not all, of the credit, for the evolution of their society and of their political syst e m during the last decade. Their desire for prosperity and fteedom. spurred not only an internal evolution that is eminently worth- while, but also one of the strongest alliances between the United States and any Asian country. I am confident that eventual l y the Koreans' desire to reunite their divided nation will prevail. The difficulty, of course, is a sizable obstacle to Korean reunification. It is called the Demo- cratic People's Republic of Korea, or more specifically, the 44-year old hidebound Stalini s t system in North Korea, led by its one and only leader, Kim 11-sung. The "Great Leader's" do- Main is one of the few remaining places where an analogy to Orwell's classic book 1984 still applies. Nevertheless, Kim's isolation has forced him to make some p eace gestures. It is encour- aging that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has examined some North Korean nuclear facilities. His initial peek, however, has led to more questions that must be an- swered, especially regarding nuclear reproc e ssing. Yet there is a deeper question before us today: Can we trust a regime that so oppresses its own people? And, indeed, a more fundamental ques- tion: What is the true extent of that oppression? I have not visited North Korea, so I will leave the answ e rs to our panelists, to whom I extend a hearty welcome: Nick Eberstadt, of the American Enterprise Institute, who has visited North Korea; Richard Kagan, a noted analyst of hurnanxights in North Korea; and our own visiting fel- low, Daryl Plunk, who on se v eral occasions, has had some choice words for Kim II-sung. Perhaps the most qualified expert here this morning is Congressman Stephen Solarz, whom I am pleased to welcome back to The Heritage Foundation. I think I am safe in assuming that he is the only o n e here today who actually has broken bread, or shared chopsticks, with Kim 11-sung, as recently as last December. I want to emphasize personally The Heritage Foundation's appreci- ation for Steve's strong leadership on Asian issues in our Congress. The la t est example is his superb work highlighting North Korea's nuclear threat. But now at this time I want to turn the program over to my colleague Dick Allen, the Chairman of our Asian Studies Center. Dick has known and worked with Congressman Solarz during h is time at the White House, and during his various tenures in the private sector. He is better qualified to give Steve a proper introduction.
Richard V. Allen Thank you very much, Dr. Feulner. It is true that the Asian Studies Center, now a decade old, ch ose very early on to focus policy makers' attention, and public attention as well, on burning is- sues involving United States interests in Asia. And it can properly be said that today, ten years after the founding of our Asian Studies Center, and after a considerable record of having ad-I
dressed, assessed, and evaluated the main policy issues, that the initial decision to create such a center was a-wise one. United States policy toward Asia in the last dozen years has been exuaordinarily -successful . Today, our focus reflects perhaps somewhat of a new tack, a new direciion in the hope that the public at large, and not only in the United States, but elsewhere in the world, will become seized with what has become a burning issue, that of North Korea. N orth Korea represents, in the eyes of many U.S. policy makers, the most serious threat to our national security interests in the world. And it is certainly a burning issue from the perspective of the people of the Republic of.Korea...The rough -equivalent of-the situation,,we must -constantly re- mind ourselves, would be to haveWashington threatened by missiles capable of dilivering weapons of mass destruction-nuclear weapons-based somewhere around Baltimore. To live under this threat, and to prosper, has b een a major challenge for the Korean people. But today we must focus on what Hyun Hong-choo, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United States, has referred to as "North Korea's systemic internal problems." In an April 23rd speech to the Korea F orum in Columbia University's East Asian Institute in New York, Am- bassador Hyun said, "We should consider more carefully the systemic problems within North Korea that are perpetuating the current tensions on the peninsula. Can we really expect the North to change its external policies, while its internal situation remains the same? After all, the East- West confrontation did not subside until the Soviet Union, and many of its traditional allies, experienced profound internal reform. We must address North Korea's root problems, and one of its most serious is its human rights situation." Hyun then added, "I recently was asked whether this approach might not necessarily compli- cate our efforts to promote North Korean moderation. Focusing on human rights mig h t amount to moving the goalpost farther away, it was suggested. I don't think it would. Attempting to im- prove the human rights situation in North Korea should not be considered a new challenge, but rather a key challenge." As he went on to point out, ov e r time, the Helsinki Agreements, in fact, accelerated the process of the disintegration of the totalitarian systems of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. And so, too, could a new and re-energized focus, on questions of human rights within North Korea, b e an accelerator of the demise of that regime. Our keynote speaker this morning is a personal friend of many years standing, and a friend of the Asian Studies Center. Congressman Solarz has been in the forefront of just causes, particu- larly the promotion of democracy and freedom, during his tenure in Congress, and especially during his tenure as Chairman of the subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Of course, we at The Heritage Foundation have taken the liberty o f dissenting from some of Congressman Solarz's views on various public policy issues. But the. bi- partisan spirit in the United States demonstrates that on issues of fundamental importance to the nation, people who are wide apart on various issues can an d do come together. And that is what perhaps distinguishes the American political tradition in its best sense. Congressman Solarz is a graduate of Brandeis University, earned his master's degree from Co- lumbia University, and was a professor at the City U n iversity of New York. He was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1968, and twice re-elected. In 1974, Mr. Solarz was elected to the United States Congress and has been re-elected eight times. Mr. Solarz left his own distinct blueprint on a number of key United States public policy issues, including some dealing with Cambodia, Korea, Israel, the Nfiddle East, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. During the 1991 Gulf war, Congressman Solarz exercised enormous influence, bringing along w ith him many of his colleagues in bi-partisan support of a resolution that permitted American forces to win that conflict. President Bush publicly congratulated him for these efforts.2
Congressman Solarz has been a leader in many respects, and I have had theopportunity to work with him on many issues, as Dr. Feulner-pointed out. Most recentlyi I had the opportunity to interview him in depth on topics related to the security situation in North Korea, and then within 48 hours found myself testifying bef o re Congressman Solarz on the broader objectives of United States foreign policy in the post-Cold War period. On behalf of Dr. Feulner, the Asian Studies Center, and The Heritage Foundation, Congress- man Solarz, we welcome you, and thank you for taking th e time to be with us today. Y.A;R epresentative Stephen Solarz I want to thank Dick very much for that very kind introduction. When he first invited me to speak at this seminar on human rights in North Korea, I must confess to have been somewhat sur- prised by the nature of the subject matter which I was being asked to address. Frankly, talking about human rights in North Korea is a little bit like talking about floods in Saudi Arabia. The topic might be suitable for a conference on trends in Asian fiction, *but I do not think there is much room for serious discussion-and certainly not debate-about the human rights situation in North Korea. Having been there twice and having tried to follow the internal politics of the country as closely as one can, in what h as bee n' characterized appropriately as the "Hermit Kingdom," I think it can fairly and safety be said that there are no human rights in North Korea. There is cer- tainly no freedom of the press, no freedom of assembly, no freedom of speech, no firedom o f religion. And while it is difficult to compile accurate statistics, it would appear that there is an ex- tensive Korean Gulag north of the 38th parallel, in which there may be between 100,000 and 150,000 political prisoners languishing under incarceratio n because of their supposed hostility to- wards the regime. Furthermore, the obsessive cult of personality in North Korea hardly contributes to the estab- lishment of a democratic environment. I remember when I went there on my first visit I was struck by t he fact that there was a picture of the "Great Leader," Kim II-sung, in literally every room I was in except one, which was the ward for premature babies at a new maternity hospital at Pyongyang. I suppose they must have felt that the preernies were not y e t in a position to ap- preciate the visage of the "Great Leader." Consequently, I think it is fair to say that North Korea has to be considered among the worst, if it is not the worst, abuser of human rights of any country in the world today. And, I rathe r doubt there is going to be much of an improvement in North Korea until such time as a transition takes place. Even then, I think, a fundamental improvement will undoubtedly depend on a funda- mental transformation in the character of the regime. Dick ind i cated that you might be interested in some of my impressions of my meeting with President Kim, when I went to Pyongyang for the second time last December. I first went there in 1980, as some of you may know. I think that I can fairly say that I am the onl y person in his- tory ever to fly from South Africa to North Korea, from Pretoria to Pyongyang. A change not only of time zones, but also political cultures. I'll never forget when I went to North Korea on my first visit, I was the subject of an editorial in a newspaper owned by the Reverend Moon in New York City in which was said something along the following lines, "The world's most terri-
3ble communist tyrant, Kim 11-sung of North Korea, opened the door to his communist kingdom just a crack last week , and in slithered New York Congressman Stephen Solarz." My first Visit can perhaps be attributed to my innate curiosity, my second perhaps to a-growing sense of masochism. Actually, I went back largely motivated by my growing concerns about the apparent e xistence of a very substantial, well-advanced nuclear weapons program in North Korea. I wanted to see what, if anything, could be done to deal with this threat to the peace and stability not only of the region but also of the world. Dick asked me to give y ou some reflections on what President Kim was like. In describing him I would have to say: that.I. am reminded of Hannah Arendt's book.about the.trial of Adolph Eichmann in Jerusalem, which she appropriately titled The Banality ofEvil. There is a tendency to think that evil individuals must, in their interpersonal encounters, conduct themselves in a way that makes their evil palpable. And yet, having had the dubious privilege of personally meeting some of the leading tyrants of our time, from Kim Il-sung t o Fidel Castro to Hafez al-Assad to even Saddam Hussein, I can tell you that there was some truth to the observation that Hider was kind to children and dogs. When you meet these people in a personal setting they can be quite polite. Kim 11-sung, for examp l e, was always smiling. He seems personally to have a rather warm per- sona. He is, of course, eighty years old, but I would not, based on the way he conducted himself in his meetings with me, assume that his demise is imminent. He certainly seemed to be m e ntally quite alert. He clearly commanded the allegiance and obedience of his associates. At one point, when he directed a question to the Foreign Minister Kim Yung-nam, the Foreign Minister im- mediately leapt to his feet, in order to, I suppose, demonstr a te what he felt was the appropriate respect for his President. In any case, most of our meeting was devoted to a discussion of the nuclear issue. I was told by President Kim that, of course, the North Koreans had no intention of making nuclear weap- ons, a lthough we had fairly persuasive evidence that, in fact, they were trying to do so. He told me they had no reprocessing facility, yet Hans Blix, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, seems to just have visited it. They said they have never s o ld Scud missiles to another country, although we seem to have conclusive evidence that they have. He indicated that they have no chemical weapons, although they do. And he told me I could not meet with his son, the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il, whom I had ex p ressed an interest in meeting, because, he said, he does not deal with foreign affairs, only with party affairs. Shortly thereafter, the younger Kim was promoted to be head of the Armed Forces. So much for the reputation of the "Great Leader," whose credi b ility on these issues must be taken with a grain of salt. Insofar as the nuclear weapons issue is concerned, after the visit-of Mr. Blix, on the surface it would appear that some progress has been made. North Korea, after years of delay, has finally signe d an agreement with the IAEA which would permit the IAEA to in- spect its declared nuclear facilities. But I do not believe it would be prudent for any of us to conclude that this indicates that the problem has been solved. In the case of North Korea, we n e ed to paraphrase the advice we re- ceived from President Reagan, who, in respect to our dealings with the former Soviet Union, suggested that we should "trust and verify." In the case of North Korea, we should distrust and verify. I am, in particular, con c erned by the fact that although we would appear to have some fairly convincing evidence that they have had an operational nuclear reactor for several years, the North Koreans claim the reactor never was operational. This suggests the very real possibility
4that the y may have some spent fuel that they have secreted away somewhere where the L4LEA in- spectors will not find it. We also note from history that North Korea has an established tendency toward the construction of massive underground facilities'. They built t unnels underneath the 38th parallel, directed toward the South. During the Korean War, as I saw for myself on my re- cent visit to Pyongyang, when I visited their Museum of the Revolution, they had enormous munitions stacked underground. It does not take t oo much imagination to realize that quite con- ceivably they could have nuclear facilities underground. This underscores, in my judgment, the absolute necessity, if we are going to have any confi- dence in the commitments of North Korea on the nuclear iss u e, that we insist on the right of- the LAEA to conduct challeng6 iiigpecffons. Such challenge ifispbcdoftg- wodld apply td,ldcations in North Korea, not just the facilities North Korea has publicly declared, but any location in the country where there may be reason to believe prohibited nuclear activities are taking place. It would also be a mistake to rely on the IAEA alone, in light of the IAEA's dismal perfor- mance in Iraq. It turned out that the Iraqis had several clandestine nuclear weapons programs o f which the MEA was utterly unaware, and that the Iraqis even managed to divert some materials from a facility that was under IAEA inspection without the MEA knowing about it. South Korea has now engaged in discussions with North Korea that provide for th e establish- ment of mutual inspections in which the South would be able to inspect facilities it wanted to look at in the North, and the North would have a comparable right to inspect facilities it wanted to in the South. Personally, I think that an agree m ent on these bilateral inspections would be a welcome, and possibly even a necessary, supplement to IAEA inspections, particularly if we do not have any real confidence that North Korea is not secretly pursuing its efforts to obtain nu- clear weapons. The reason that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by North Korea would be so dangerous and destabilizing is that it would, first of all, significantly increase the possibility that nuclear weap- ons would proliferate on the Korean Peninsula. Secondly, it als o would enhance the prospects for another conventional war in Korea. For nuclear weapons might give Kim 11-sung, or his suc- cessor, a feeling of confidence that if he launched a surprise conventional attack against the South that fell short of North Korea ' s political and strategic objectives, the North would then be able to dictate the terms of a cease-fire, as it could threaten to use nuclear weapons if its terms were not met. Thus, nuclear weapons would serve as a kind of fail-safe insurance policy. It w o uld also, of course, probably end whatever hopes we might have to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons. I have no doubt that, if it acquires nuclear weapons or material, North Korea would seek to solve its foreign exchange crisis by offeri n g a variety of options to such potential purchasers of nuclear materials as Muammar Qadhafi, Saddarn Hussein, or Hassemi Rafsanjani, in which at different prices they would be offered off-the-shelf weapons, or perhaps the plutonium with which to construct nuclear weapons. And once they have this nuclear technology, it will be very, very difficult, if not impossible, to stop them from exporting it. So I think the nuclear issue does pose enormous problems, and it has to be dealt with. What should we do? In a d dition to the dialogue which is now underway between the North and the South, I think we have to make it very clear to North Korea, as I believe the Administration has done, that any hopes they have to improve their relations with the United States depend on the satisfactory resolution of this nuclear question. I think our policy should be a judicious combination of carrots and sticks. Carrots, in the sense that we should hold open the possibility of normalization of diplomatic relations, and possibly even a lifting of the embargo, ff this nuclear problem can be satisfactorily resolved. We should also make sure that Japan continues to insist, as it has thus far, on a satisfactory resolution of the
5nuclear problem as a condition for Japanese investment in North Korea and more expansive trade and diplomatic recognition as well. But we also need some sticks, and at the top of the list, I believe, should be a declared determination -to go-to the Security Council -to seek. -Thandatory sanctions against Nor t h Korea in the event that this problem is not satisfactorily resolved in the near future. Now we are approaching a moment of truth. The MEA inspectors will be going there. We will soon know whether they are given unlimited access to sites they want to inv e stigate, and we will have the benefit of whatever conclusions they may reach. I do believe that at theTresent time-this isprobablythe.@gle-mostsignificant threat and challenge we face in Asia. It is going to take not only continued resolve but also perhap s nerves of steel to resolve it satisfactorily. I believe it is essential as we move toward what I hope will be a resolution of the problem that we rule out no options whatsoever, including military ones. I am not advocating the use of force, but I think i t would be a serious mistake to give the leadership in Pyongyang the feeling that force would not be used under any circumstances whatsoever in order to prevent them from joining the nuclear club. So, with such a policy of carrots and sticks, I think the p rospects of getting a solution to this problem would be significantly enhanced.
Seth Cropsey I also would like to thank Congressman Solarz for a very interesting and instructive talk this morning. With us today to talk about human rights in North Korea is D r. Richard Kagan, who is going to outline the current challenges to human rights in North Korea. He is a professor of his- tory and Chairman of the Social Science Division at Hamline University in Minnesota, and received his doctorate degree in Asian hist o ry from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also, rather notably, a co-author of the 1990 study for a human rights group, Asia Watch, "Human Rights in the People's Democratic Republic of Korea," which is a seminal study, and in addition to that, extreme l y important. Nick Eberstadt, an old friend of mine, will examine economic con- ditions in North Korea. Nick is a visiting scholar with the American Enterprise Institute from Harvard University. He has recently published a remarkable study on the populatio n of North Korea. And he visited North Korea himself two years ago. After that, our friend Daryl Plunk, ad- junct scholar here, will examine some implications for American policy that had been raised by the other panelists in their remarks. As an analyst a t The Heritage Foundation and as Vice Presi- dent of the Richard V. Allen Company, Daryl has been published widely, and for a long time, on Korean and American relations. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in South Korea in the late sev- enties. I welcome all of our panelists here today.
Dr. Richard Kagan I should start by noting that I have never been to North Korea. My wife thinks that I probably could go there, but she is not too sure they would let me come back. I have no plans at the mo- ment for going. Co ngressman Solarz's introductory comments aptly noted the problems of researching human rights in North Korea. A large part of the problem stems from the fact that many people believe that there is not really a human rights issue to study in North Korea. T h is is despite the fact that the North Koreans have signed with the United Nations many protocols and have made treaty commitments on the issue of human rights. Not holding them up to their own standaids; amounts to letting them off the hook. Also, judging their record on commitments made in the human6
rights area will give us an idea of how they live up to commitments they have made in other areas, such as on the nuclear issue. Researching human rights issues in North Korea7is made more difficult by f ears- of-retaliation. We sent the proofs of our book for Asia Watch to the Ambassador to the United Nations from North Korea. He wrote back that we must not publish this; and if we do, we will have to be re- sponsible for the consequences. He sent us two l etters along those lines, and called us several times, to insist that we not publish this "trash." Another obstacle to research is that there are very few North Korean defectors. There have been about 1,000 defectors from North. Korea nver.the-lastbirty-y - ears or so. We should compare this with over 800,000 East Germa@s who fled to West Germany from the 1960s up to the 1980s. We have very few people that we can talk to, and many of them rightfully are frightened that ff there name is mentioned, their famil y may be banned. But there is also a very curious political ambivalence. There are many scholars and business- men who have worked in North Korea, primarily from Scandinavian countries, who praise North Korea's self-sufficiency. Some of these observers are sympathetic to its anti-imperialism, and of its role in the Korean War. It is seen by many as either a heroic model, or a model of a different type of socialism that deserves to exist. These people are very unwilling to criticize North Korea owing to thei r ideological and per- sonal views. An example is a Peruvian writer who was asked why he wrote a laudatory book about the DPRK. He answered, "They have done incredible things in the economy, it is the only Third World country where everyone has good health , good education, and good housing." When he was asked what he really thought about North Korea, this gentleman replied, "It is the saddest, most miserable country Ne ever been in my whole life. As a poet, it strikes bleakness into my heart." And yet here i s a man who wrote a very laudatory book about Kim 11-sung of North Korea. Many in South Korea that I contacted while doing research for the book were unwilling to paint the picture of the North too darkly. Their general feeling was that these am our broth e rs; if we are too negative, we will never unify. Reunification is key. We can work out all these prob- lems later. But ff we create too much prejudice we will keep ourselves from reuniting. Finally, difficulties are posed by the technical definition of hu m an rights. There are many dif- ferent definitions, some include being against capital punishment, others do not. What we did- and I should add that this book was done with two other people: one a Korean researcher, who was a lawyer, and one a human rights lawyer at the University of Minnesota-was to take the United Nations declaration of human rights, chapter by chapter, and compare it to North Korea's criminal code, the Constitution, and other laws that we were able to obtain. And-then-we-com-- pared each to specific issues, specific experiences. We could not, of course, go in there and do full-scale Gallup polls or interviews. We did interview a large number of people who traveled and worked in North Korea, diplomats, defectors, spies, and others, and bro u ght together a com- posite. Today I want to discuss several human rights issues. The first set of issues am common con- cerns. The second set of issues are more controversial, in that I examine education, health, women, and maternity. I want to touch on t h e latter issues for two reasons: one, almost anyone has been taught until recently that education, health, and the condition of women have been very good in North Korea. The result of my study shows that this is absolutely inaccurate and untrue. First, th e death penalty. The penal code has 47 provisions for a death penalty. The penal code says that you only have to show that the offense was committed, you do not have to give any7
other testimony or evidence. Second, almost all criminal acts in Korea a re considered political. Almost all criminal acts are considered as treason, particularly as criminal acts against the social- ist system, the -economic system. You can be executed due to an armed uprising, a seizure.of state property, undermining state i n dustry, and even the bizarre "violation of traffic regulations." The terminology seems to imply, or is related to, interfering with the trains and keeping them from running on time. North Korea's socialist economy is based on forced labor and a command ec o nomy; no deviations are allowed. You can also get capital punishment for homicide and for absence without leave from the army, if you are away for more than sii hours, or if you fail to re- port on time for duty. We lack good estimates on how many"p6ople h ave been execut!6d.'In the late fifties, we know of 9,000 who were listed as executed for one crime or another. I want to say that rape is not men- tioned. It seems that rape is only really a crime punishable by death or even imprisonment if you come from the non-elite classes; if you are in the elite classes, rape is not much of a crime. There are also mass trials and public executions in North Korea, very similar to the ones that occurred in China. In China they are called "meetings of ten thousand peopl e ." We have accounts of these very emotional trials and public executions in North Korea as well. Regarding torture, the laws of North Korea contain no sanction against the use of torture or in- humane treatment, despite the fact that Pyongyang signed Unit e d Nations prohibitions on torture. There are many reports of torture. Japanese sources have reported that many prisoners are given a food ration of only 100 grams a day. They say that on such a diet, you would not liVe for more than a year or so at most. T here are seven types of prisons in North Korea. You heard Congressman Solarz say there are 100,000 to 150,000 prisoners. There are more than that. It all depends, of course, on how you count them. Available statistics prompt me to guesstimate that there a r e 300,000 to 400,000 pris- oners. We do not really have any names or lists, of course. In the seven types of prisons there are rehabilitation camps for minor offenders. In every city or county there are at least one or two of these camps, or more. There a r e about 200 or so people per camp. There are labor camps, in which among others, the children of political criminals, or the whole family suffers. When some- one is convicted or put in jail, the wife can visit her husband only if she is going there to get a divorce; otherwise she cannot visit him. If she does not divorce him then she and her children are both sent away to camp, sometimes with the husband, sometimes not. Many of these labor camps contain 500 to 2,500 people. There are also juvenile delinque n t camps as well. There is a minimum of one in each of North Korea's nine provinces. There seem to be three in Pyongyang. There are also twelve maximum security prisons that we have known of up until a few years ago, and these are estimated to contain 100, 0 00 to 150,000. Four more of these opened while Kim Jong-fl was gaining more power. It seems that each prison is being filled with 5,000 to 8,000 people, whom he is apparently purging out of his government. There are also relocation centers where people ha v e been moved for social, economic, politi- cal, cultural reasons. We are told that there are about 70,000 of these people that have been moved during the eighties. There are also sanitariums in which mainly religious leaders are placed. And finally, one s h ould add, there is a very small though important number of detained and abducted foreigners. Three young Japanese couples were abducted in 1978. Supposedly the men were killed and the women were used to teach Korean women Japanese language, customs, and c u lture. A South Korean was abducted in Sweden. A few years ago a Korean-American named Jung-en Suk, a 22-year-old Korean soldier in Germany, was abducted as well. We have re- ports from Swedish and other European agencies of 1,ebanese women being kidnapped in Japan. Japanese fishermen are kidnapped at times or held. The greatest number, of course, are the 6,3758
Japanese wives of returning Japanese-Koreans. According to original statements, they would be a llowed to return to Japan, but that has not been the case. Korea is divided basically into three-classes, and within those-three classes, there is a-total-of about 64 categories. The three classes are very similar to the E Dynasty classification for the p o p- ulation. The first class is the Elite, which includes Kim 11-sung's family, and then about two million Elite workers. These are the top officials in the government who are loyal to Kim II-sung, although they are not always exempt from being jailed. The r e are about 15 million in the Waver- ing class, who have very limited rights to education, travel, health, maternity, and other benefits. And, finally, about 3 million comprise the Suspect People, who have no rights, and are the work- ers, the drones.- on e fnight even say slave laborers.' These classes receive different treatment under the law and receive different education and ra- tions. If you are a member of the Elite class, it does not mean you are living that well, by the way. We had three professors from Kim 11-sung University in North Korea visit us in St. Paul. They came to the Shila Restaurant, which is one of our finest Korean restaurants. And one of them had no idea what the meat menu was, even though it was in Korean. One actually licked. his n o odle bowl. He said it was the first time he had noodles in about three years. They literally showed the signs of starvation. They became very self-conscious after they had blurted this out and then looked at each other, pulled back, and put on their polit e faces again. We can see that these classes get different treatment in hospitals; if you have a blue card or a red card, you get different types of medical care. If you are in the same class but in a different classification you can get different treatmen t . We see this particularly in the Pyongyang juvenile delinquent center where five or six kids committed the same crime, but they came from different classifications and were each punished differently. Maternity care and the health of women are major issue s . Congressman Solarz went to the fa- mous hospital that is shown to all VIPs. This hospital is primarily a showcase; many of the patients and doctors are actors and actresses, including the children. You see them not only there, but you see them later on a gricultural farms, you see them in industry, you see them marching- you see the same people. We talked to some of the actresses ourselves. Very few people are al- lowed to use this hospital. Some of its medical equipment is highly technical, from Sweden, W est Germany, East Germany, and other countries. But in checking with Swedish sources, I dis- covered the companies do not send any of their manuals for adjusting the medical-equipment. There are no storage areas for a lot of the film and other X-ray tapes . Also, there are no proper electrical outlets. A friend of mine who went to North Korea recently took a picture of one of these machines and then got behind it and showed that it was not even plugged in. It is one of my favorite pictures. The real hospita l for the Elite is a secret, private hospital for Kim II-sung and those around him, which has never been publicly exposed. While doing research for the AsiaWatch book we asked many questions about health and we tried to ask some about nutrition. We found o u t from one study that women begin to menstruate anytime from about 18 years to 21 years. What this suggests is very low nutrition. Also, there is tremendous bleeding associated with childbirth, showing that the women do not have enough iron. In addition, t heir low nutrition is resulting in very low birth rates. Women also have high rates of TB, ulcers, tension, which also add to the low birth rate. Pyongyang is held up as a model city, but it is not. That would imply that it was a city to be used throughou t North Korea as a model for how to build cities. It is basically an arbitrary pri- vate city of Kim Il-sung's own creation. Its an expression of his own ego, his own cult views, his fetish against dirt, his-fetish for cleanliness. Truck traffic is not all owed during the day, all cars9
and trucks must be washed before they come through the city gates. All marketing goes on at night. And the residents are checked frequently to see if they are dirty or if they have lice. Only the Elite live in Pyongyang. A nyone who does not-look youthful-or strong-is-taken- out, except for a few Elite members or agents. This is part of a fetish for youth, part of an Asian anar- chist tradition. They weed out the old and the infirm on a regular basis. This is one of the rea s ons why you see basically all the same type of people in Pyongyang. No private bicycles are allowed. The roadways are controlled and secured. The buildings are not marked-you do not know what a government building is with no marking on it, no address, no n ame. It is all anonymous, it is all private. If you go into one office building room and want to go across the aisle to another pas- sageway or room, you .Will be blocked by p6licd. You a?e t6ld as tworker just--how you go to work and how you come back, a n d what hours. There is no just wandering around, no indepen- dent travel. Also there are no independent conversations; you do not just go over to somebody's place and chat. Women complain about this a great deal; they. can't talk about their children, abo u t their feelings, about anything at all. This is a quotation from a woman: "No one ever visits other homes for talks or the like, cause he or she is exhausted after work, and moreover, there is never any time to do so." Housewives should be especially rem e mbered as the ones who are suffering the most in North Korea. Anything they might say about their children will be held against them or their children or their husband. In interviews we had with people who lived in apartment buildings, we asked questions l ike: Do you know the birth date of any of your neighbors? Do you know where your neighbors have come from? Do you ever sit down and talk with them? Have you ever been in their rooms? The answers are usually no, no, no, no, no. It is a very quick interview . Until very recently a single road lane in Pyongyang was reserved for Kim 11-sung's car. There is one subway car that is reserved for him. Despite this being a "model city," there is also a slum area there. An Egyptian journalist and others have commented on shanty areas where the Waver- ing class lives. They are basically the servants who dust the streets, take out the snow, who are maids and other menials. And they live in areas which are set away from Pyongyang. Pyongyang is established basically with m o numents that are very lavish. One of the most lavish monuments is on the cover of our book. Kim Il-sung's picture is here and the little people here underneath. The plight of women, to sum up, is that the state has robbed them of their gender and motherly identity. The songs they and their children are supposed to sing are basically how they give their identity to Kim II-sung. "I'll throw myself into the bosom of the chieftain if I were to be born and re-born a hundred times ... ensconced in the bosom of t h e father chieftain this daughter is overwhelmed with his love." They want mothers to look at Kim II-sung's family as their family. This is particularly true of orphans, who are brought up almost as family janissaries who only give their loyalties to Kim I I -sung in North Korea. It is also important to discuss the issues of culture, knowledge, and education. The radios are hard-wired, you cannot get independent radio channels. Being caught with a radio, even if you're a member of the Elite, is reason to send you off to a detention center or labor camp, im- mediately. Kim Il-sung has literally cities of people devoted to propaganda; their whole job is to send out propaganda on Kim 11-sung. You are supposed to refer to him in everything you write, in almost eve r y sentence, and every paragraph, and at least on every page, to state that Kim 11- sung's idea gave you this idea. Their media are fined with a tremendous amount of lies about the rest of the world. Perhaps the most dominant lie of the moment is that ever ybody in South Korea has AIDS. People are afraid to shake hands with each other because they will catch AIDS. I have witnessed this great fear with defectors and others that have come from North Korea.1 0
Is change possible? I would note that the mere ef fort of airing the human rights issue in North Korea can help accelerate the demise of that regime. I think one of the great negative con- sequences of believing that there are no human rights violations in North Korea is that those - people are abandoned to further isolation. There are no human rights as we know them in North Korea. It is up to us to expose this and to make people in North Korea feel welcome into the uni- versal community of law and human relations.
Nicholas Eberstadt Professor Kagan's fa scinating remarks, and his excellent study, have stimulated me to begin my presentation with a digression.-My purpose is-not-to -disagree with his findings, but perhaps instead to qualify his description of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea throug h an expe- rience of my own in that country. For if one reads the available literature about North Korea, and happens to have an American sensibility, a question immediately comes to mind: How can a place like this continue to function? How could it last 4 5 minutes, much less 45 years? Exactly two years ago today I was visiting Pyongyang, the guest of a North Korean research institute. My hosts were very anxious to get me to visit a resort area, Mount Myohyang, a few hours away from the capital. They and I b oth knew the purpose of the proposed journey: Mt. Myohyang is the site of a huge museum of international gifts to Kim 11-sung. The structure is said to cover 250,000 square feet. It seems that coordinators get special points for having visitors make the p i lgrimage to this spot. Now I was not uninterested in this museum: I had seen some almost surreal pictures of it in North Korean publications. But I was on an academic visit to the DPRK, time was running short, and I had not yet obtained the information th a t I had come for. I was resisting their out-of-town itinerary, and I fastened on the schedule they had devised. We were supposed to go to bed at 10 p.m. in Pyongyang, to be awakened for a 1 a.m. train, then awakened again at 5 a.m. when the train reached t he station, then awakened once more later in the morning at our new hotel near the gift museum. The point of the routine, of course, was to prevent us from seeing anything by train while we were travelling. I asked if there were not any trains to Mt. Myoh y ang during daylight hours. My hosts affected exasperation. They told me that they wished all train schedules in their country could be set for the convenience of foreign tourists, but the world does not work like that: it is the only train and you will be on it. Well, I thought I would let that pass. The next morning I got up early and went down to the Pyongyang train station, which was a few blocks from my hotel. I went up to the information counter, and in my broken Korean asked when the next train depar t ed for Mt. Myohyang. The cheerful attendant told me it left at 6 p.m. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Oh yes, sir," she replied. I asked her to write it down for me, and she did. At our morning meeting, a daily session in which we discussed the plans for the re s t of the day, I told my hosts that if we had to go to Mt. Myohyang, I would like to take the six o'clock train; it was much more convenient and I'd also be able to see a lot more of the countryside. The long and the short of it was that the trip to Mt. My o hyang was scrapped. I tell this story only to emphasize a single point. If North Korea is a monolithic society, it is a monolith with cracks-.cracks large enough for an easily identifiable Westerner like myself to slip through. My little conversation in t h e train station clearly was not part of the program; in fact, it served to thwart my hosts from what was clearly their objective. Ask yourselves whether a very conspicuous foreigner could have a similar experience in Stalin's Moscow in 1947. In all likeli hood, some helpful volunteer would have emerged from a cro,@d to translate for me, or the frightened woman behind the information counter would have sent me back to the hotel to in-
11quire there about schedules. North Korea may be a police state, but it is also a state inhabited by human beings, and the actual operation of that police state is constrained by this obvious, but lim- iting, fact. Now, on to my presentation. I was asked to talk about economic and social rights in the DPRK, but I must conf e ss that I am wary about the very notion of "economic rights." This seems to me to be a problematic, indeed a mischievous, concept. It may be used to suggest that there are material preconditions, or substitutes, for liberty. From this false premise can be drawn every- thing from the unending demands for "development assistance" in the so-called North-South dialogue to the programmatic Ieninist assault against liberal societies on the grounds that they lack "substantive right," andthus legitimacy'. What I w o uld like to talk about instead is something slightly different: North Korea's eco- nomic and social conditions, and prospects for the future. I should start with a question: what do we know, and how do we know it? I won't repeat any of the ground that Pro f essor Kagan has already covered. I should emphasize, though, that reli- able facts and figures on North Korea are extremely scarce-even for those in Pyongyang who are supposed to collect and process them. I had a chance to meet some of the DPRK's official statisticians while I was there. They were quite open: they apologetically referred to their own data as "rubber statistics." They said this phrase was well known and often used in their circles. And, of course, under a government like North Korea's, the m ore politically important a number is considered, the greater will be the pressure to "adjust" it favorably. I was given permission to work with population data. To the government, these seemed arcane-almost completely irrele- vant and unimportant from a political standpoint. As a consequence, they appear to have been left almost completely "unadjusted." These figures turn out to be very important in helping us glimpse this very closed society. I will rely heavily on these figures in my presentation.
Econ omic Conditions Even within the "distorted world of Soviet-type economies," to borrow Jan Winiedid's phrase, North Korea's economic structure looks extraordinarily distorted. There really has not been much work in the West on the North Korean economy, but one of the best studies to date was published a few years ago in Japan. Fujio Goto attempted to estimate North Korea's gross domes- tic product for the late 1950s. (Due to the statistical blackout in force -since the early 1960s, that was the most recent p eriod for which he could attempt such work.) Though his study. contained a number of important assumptions, Goto ingeniously, and I think quite expertly, came up with es- timates of the composition of the North Korean product by final demand. By his recko n ing, personal consumption accounted for an extraordinarily low share of North Korean GDP in. the- late 1950s: less than 35 percent of GDP on what economists call an "adjusted factor cost basis."' Just to put that figure in perspective: it would have been o ver twenty points lower than corre- sponding estimates for the Soviet Union for the same period. Information on the North Korean economy over the past generation is scanty, to say the least. Nevertheless, what information we have suggests that the share o f personal consumption in the North Korean economy may be smaller today than it was in the late 1950s. There is considerable uncertainty about the actual level of wages in the DPRK today: most of the figures we hear about are from showpiece factories or co o peratives. But even ff we take what may prove to be a high figure as our presumed average, wages and salaries today would account for no more than 15 per- cent to 20 percent of the DPRK's national output. Even for a socialist economy, this would be an ama zingly-almost unbelievably-low ratio. It would indicate that the motion of the North Ko-1 2
rean economy has been almost completely separated from the articulated preferences of the indi- viduals who live under it. How does the population subsist if money is largely an irrelevant commodity? We know-there is an underground economy in North Korea, largely based on barter, but the size of this sector is impossible to determine at this time. But it is equally clear that the state's role in determining any given family's living standard is enormous. Even as Pyongyang has been delimiting the role of co n sumer choice and purchasing power, it has been increasingly resorting to the direct provi- sion of goods and services to the population at large. Basic.foodstuffs, housing, and even clothing are among the items that are made available in rationed quantiti e s at nominal charge, or offered annually as "giffir'ftdift the regime" By-PyongyAng'sreck6ning, over half of the goods and services consumed annually by households come through the so-called social consumption channel. Though this point probably need not b e emphasized, that is a far higher proportion than in other Marxist-Leninist economies in the late 1980s. Indeed, even before the era of glasnost, Soviet and Eastern European analysts regularly expressed their amazement and dismay over the structure of th e North Korean economy. Steeped though they were in the culture of the Leninist war economy, the transformations wrought upon the economy of the DPRK struck many of them as little short of astonishing.Social Conditions I want to talk a moment or two abou t social conditions in the DPRK. Here some of the new numbers from my recent study can be informative. Family Planning. Let us talk about family planning for a minute. North Korea's birth rate plummeted between the late 1960s and the early 1980s; in fact, by our estimates, the "total fertil- ity rate!---the average number of children per woman over the childbearing years-dropped by about half between 1970 and 1976. In the early 1970s China's birth rate also plummeted. We now know there was an unan- nounced but far-reaching anti-natal population control campaign in China at the time. Has there been a similar effort in North Korea? If one asks North Korean defectors, the answer is an equally strong and consistent "yes." Some years back I talked to a represent a tive of a pro-DPRK group of ethnic Koreans in Japan about this matter. He was quite familiar with conditions in North Korea. He told me that there was indeed a long-standing anti-natal population policy in the North, that a "two-child norm" was being impl e mented, and that a "one-child only" option was being encouraged. China's population policy, of course, has been associated with widespread abuse of human be- ings and their liberties. We have virtually no information about the particulars- of Noi-th Korea ' s population policy. It is shrouded in mystery: it has, to my knowledge, never even been men- tioned in the North Korean press. (The closest thing one can find are some offhand remarks by Kim Il-sung to the effect that it would be desirable if the populat i on's growth rate were a little slower.) How, and why, would one have a long-standing population campaign that did not utilize the government's highly developed propaganda and "communication" organs? Moreover, the motivations behind such a campaign would n o t be entirely obvious. Unlike China, North Korea is said to be a labor-scarce economy: if so, why further limit the future labor force? Health. Professor Kagan has already talked a bit about the health service system in North Korea. The numbers I used in m y study speak to some extent to the system's results. I must con- fess that these numbers surprised us. After making appropriate adjustments, taking account of inconsistencies and so forth, it looks as if levels of life expectancy at birth in North and So uth Korea have been more or less the same from the early 1960s through the late 1980s. Despite the
13radical differences in their health systems, and in their patterns of economic performance over the past generation, life expectancy outcomes in the t wo Koreas over the past generation look all but indistinguishable. How does one explain this? One partial answer may be that death rates provide an incomplete (albeit terribly important) indication of a population's health conditions. We know of poor soci e - ties where life spans are quite long, but where nutrition is poor and illness is endemic: Sri Lanka is one that comes to mind immediately. It also seems to be the case that health levels in South Korea today are unusually low, considering the country's e conomic performance. Despite their huge differences in productivity, for example, life expectancies for adult males today are about the same in So'u'thXoreh'and'Banglad6ih. Employment. It is a commonplace that North Korea's mobilization of its population i s far reaching and extraordinarily thorough. We have attempted in our study to reconstruct labor force participation rates for North Korea's adult population. Our results indicate a level of mobiliza- tion fully twenty points higher than South Korea's. Ev e n by the demanding standards of Leninist regimes, North Korea's labor force participation rates look high-considerably higher than those of the U.S.S.R., and far higher than those of Eastern Europe. These estimates, moreover, entirely exclude North Korea' s enormous and highly mobilized military force. The Military. It is now possible to estimate the size of the North Korean military from official North Korean figures. One can do so thanks to a quirk in the presentation of their population numbers. Up throu g h 1970, figures are given for total male population; thereafter, the totals are for civilian male population. If you reconstruct the total male population, and subtract the civil- ian male population, you are left with a non-civilian male total-call them " missing males." In the very early 1970s, a path breaking study on North Korea described the place as "perhaps the most militarized society on earth." At the time, it was thought that the Korean People's Army (KPA), North Korea's military, had about 400,00 0 persons in it. By the late 1980s, North Korea's "missing male" contingent was over three times larger than that. Our estimates indicated that this non-civilian male group could not be smaller than 1.25 million persons by 1987; it might even have been som e what larger. Evidently, North Korea has not only engaged in a monumental buildup over the past two de- cades, but has entered into something like hyper-militarization. If we take this "missing male' contingent as a good proxy for military manpower-and I t h ink we can-the ratio of soldiers to national population in North Korea would be higher than in Saddarn Hussein's Iraq during the Desert Storm operation. As best we can make out, the ratio of soldiers to total population in North Korea today would be about the same as it was in the United States in 1943-a time, re- member, when we were mobilized for total war. Political Prisoners. Like all Communist regimes, North Korea maintains a system of camps for those who have committed"political crimes." It is said t h at these camps today contain as many as 150,000 people. That figure is widely accepted by Western specialists on North Korea, and by international human rights circles, but I have no way of checking it. If the figure is correct, it certainly speaks to the severity of police state policies in North Korea today. But once again, it is important to draw a distinction between the nature of the North Ko- rean regime as it now operates and that of Stalin's Russia. In the 1940s, many millions of persons were incar c erated in the Soviet Gulag at any given time: their total easily accounted for 3 percent to 5 percent of the entire Soviet population at the time. By contrast, if the figure for North Korea is accurate, that 150,000 would comprise rather less than 1 perce nt of the country's total population.
14The distinction speaks not to Pyongyang's benevolence, but rather to its practicality. Kim Il- sung exercises a totalitarian mastery over his society, and relies upon terror to do so-but he evidently implements te rror more efficiently. Such efficiency or practicality is also underscored by the fate of cadres at the highest reaches of the regime. The Chief of the KPA General Staff, for example, is currently a man named Choe Kwang. He has had an unusual career. In t h e late 1960s he was accused of having conspired against Kim 11-sung. He was tried for treason, and disappeared. Some years later, he resurfaced in a civilian post. He resumed his rise, and he is now perhaps in the most important post in North Korea's most important institution. I submit that a career like that would have been absolutely impossible in Stalin's Russia. To be tried for treason against "the Leader" in Stalin's Russia was to face certain penalties rather more severe than career disruption. Yet i n North Korea, Choe Kwang has not only survived, but evi- dently prospered. Despite the fury and savageness in its offic 'ial rhetoric, this regime is apparently able to put the disfavored "on ice": to shelve them in case they should prove useful later on . This is not mercy, but rather cold calculation, and it may help us understand the perfor- mance of the North Korean state over these past four decades. The Communist states of the Warsaw Pact, remember, are now only history, but the DPRK endures.
Prospe cts For The Future Yet however successful North Korea may consider itself to have been in the period since parti- tion, the regime's future is bleak. Conditions have been getting steadily worse over the past few years in both the international political a n d the domestic economic arenas, and it is hard to imag- ine how the current government would be able to turn things around. Even North Korea's own highly politicized economic figures admit to a downturn in the econ- omy since 1989. To my knowledge, this i s the first downturn that has been acknowledged in the forty years since the Korean War. Official figures say the drop in national income per capita was 2 percent to 3 percent; one can only guess what the true drop was. From an economic standpoint, the col l apse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has been a catastrophe for North Korea. In the late 1980s, the Warsaw Pact countries ac- counted for well over half of North Korea's foreign trade: they bought essentially uncompetitive North Korean products, and supplied the DPRK with things that kept its industrial infrastructure functioning. They also provided the DPRK with concessional aid. These arrangements have come to an end, and there is no immediate replacement for them. For many years ther e was talk in South Korea, much of it political or motivated by wishful thinking, about hunger in the North: harvest failures, starvation, and the like. Still, there is talk today about food shortages and privation in North Korea, but reports are coming fr o m so many different sources that it does not seem plausible to me to ascribe them all to some tightly organ- ized South Korean conspiracy. There are simply too many reporters and delegations from too many countries describing conditions in too many differ e nt parts of North Korea. Even though harvests are apparently faltering and the economy is apparently stumbling badly, expenditures on showpiece projects continue to be massive. Pyongyang's ongoing face-lift con- tinues; officials state they spent $4 billi o n alone on preparations for the 1989 Youth Festival (their answer to the Seoul Olympics). Even more is said to have been spent on the West Sea Lock Gate near Nampo, a project which supposedly will aid in land reclamation. Add to such ventures the vast mil itary burden that must be financed, and one gets a sense of what the North Korean economy is facing.15
In the past, North Korea has pursued what economists call an "extensive" policy: mobilizing more labor and more capital to get more growth. Today, t here really is nothing left to mobilize. It is hard to see how labor force participation rates -could get much higher. Mobilizing more capital would mean cutting consumption or military spending, but the former has already been squeezed, and the latter se e ms to be inviolate. The regime might find an escape from its dilemma by embarking on genuine economic liberal- ization-radical liberalization. To date, there has been talk-careful talk, to be sure-about economic reform by a variety of North Korean officia l s. Some Western analysts see North Korea on the verge of a partial or even a major economic reform. I have my doubts. Noises about economic reform have been emanating from official circles in North Korea for more than a decade. But to date the talk has be e n just that-talk. Even the boldest steps that have actually been taken over the past ten years (the Joint Venture Law, for example) barely qualify as half-measures. Despite the all but certain min that will eventually result from Pyongyang's present econo m ic course, there is reason to expect its continuation (with essentially minor emendations'). The cur- rent leadership in Pyongyang views economic liberalization as a matter of incalculable political risk. And from Pyongyang's vantage point, such an assess m ent is hardly irrational. Eastern Europe's "reform socialism," after all, was followed by the "revolutions of 1989." The Soviet Union embraced perestroika, and now it is no longer the Soviet Union; now it is just a jumble of non-Communist republics. China may offer Pyongyang its most attractive model-something like tactical economic reform under strict political control-but even this freedom led to the Tiananmen incident in the capital. In the Korean context-that divided Peninsula, with the vi- brant and d y namic society to the South always pulling the North toward its gravitational field- mass demonstrations against the regime in Pyongyang would have incalculable consequences. Such a prospect appears to be utterly unacceptable to North Korea's leadership, a n d they seem eager to avoid doing anything that might risk it. In short, Kim II-sung and his circle seem to have accepted the prospect of long-term economic decline of their kingdom as the price for continuing to exercise their control over it. Political a nd economic change may await his successors, but it is not clear that those forces can remain under the control of his legacies.Daryl Plunk It is a great pleasure to sit on this panel with two colleagues who have done same fascinating and ground breaking research into the situation north of the DMZ. I would like to conclude our panel discussion by giving my broad brush impressions of the environment,. on and around the Korean Peninsula, and also by saying a few things about U.S. policy. Clearly Pyongyang ' s international environment has changed dramatically in the past few years. We all understand that, simply put, it has very few friends and allies left. Nearly all the for- mer communist states now recognize the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea and man y of them am clamoring for economic exchanges and/or assistance from Seoul. While the DPRK pays sig- nificant lip service to the North, Beijing as well is quietly nurturing trade, cultural, and unofficial political relations with Seoul. There is a multi-bi l lion dollar trade partnership between South Korea and China. Sooner or later, I think, China will eventually be moved to seal official ties with Seoul. Over the past few years, even trade between North and South Korea has become a regular feature, with tw o-way annual trade approaching the $200 million mark. Stung by its worsening economy, the strains mentioned by Nick, and the loss of financial concessions from the Soviet Union, it appears that the North is trying to attract some trade and investment. The
16leadership is even considering a free trade zone along its border with China and Russia. Pyongyang suffered a stunning defeat last year when it was forced to back off from its long-held objection to Korean membership in the United Nations, and today both North and South are full- fledged members of that body. Under increasing world pressure and no doubt in an effort to repair its extremely tarnished in- ternational image, the North opened high-level dialogue with South Korea in late 1990. Progress h a s been slow and the painstaking talks have, for the most part, simply produced a proliferation of negotiation bureaucracy. Joint committees meet and split hairs about various issues related to political, military, and economic relations between the two si d es. Still in recent weeks we have seen progress, of at'least the gighg'of progress, oii the'hdrizon.F6r orilythe: second time since the Peninsula was divided, the two sides will exchange two groups of separated relatives on August 15, the anniversary of l i beration from Japanese colonial rule. Then, of course, there is the nuclear issue to which Congressman Solarz referred. Clearly feel- ing the heat of coordinated U.S.-ROK moves late last year to confirm there are no nuclear weapons stored in South Korea, P yongyang has been forced to adjust, or perhaps even move to- ward abandoning, its efforts to build nuclear bombs. The North has finally allowed the IAEA to begin inspections and has pledged to allow for mutual inter-Korean inspections as well., The ver- d i ct is still out on the North's true intentions though. Therein lies the central challenge for U.S. policy makers, at least for the foreseeable future. More about that in a moment. Finally, Pyongyang is calling loudly for improved relations with its main a d versaries, particu- larly the United States and Japan. In an effort to soften that ground, the North recently has allowed an unprecedented number of foreign visitors into its lair, and Nick was one of them. (I have never been to North Korea, by the way, e x cept to visit the DMZ. I guess the invitation to The Heritage Foundation has been lost in the mail. Perhaps it will get here eventually.) Journal- ists, businessmen, academics, and others have been visiting the North with increasing frequency. Incidentall y , these public relations efforts by the North have had some dubious results. Extensive American media coverage was focused on the "Great Leader's" eightieth birthday in April, as well as on the demise of some 700 snapping turtles whose blood was presented to Kim II-sung as some sort of health food concoction. I do not think the North Koreans realized that this was not a particularly favorable story to promote. So, like it or not, the North has been forced to make some changes in its external relations with Seoul, Tokyo, Washington, and the rest of the world, and that is a significant development. I think we could conclude that perhaps there have been more changes in the past few years than we have seen in a long time on the Korean Peninsula. Does this bode w ell for internal change in the DPRK? I think that at least for now the answer appears to be no. Recent events in other communist nations, as Nick has just mentioned, high- lighted the importance of information, communication, and the media. For years the v ast majority of East Germans, for instance, were able to receive West German television, making them acutely aware of the fruits of democracy and capitalism. This is not the case in North Korea. It appears that the average North Korean has little access t o information about the outside world, and only a few privileged government officials and businessmen are allowed to travel abroad. The small number of North Korean university students who once studied abroad have been recalled. So truth, that important ca t alyst of reform, is in very short supply in the North. Now I would agree that there is some degree of popular opposition to the Kim dynasty's rule, but it appears that the threat from the malcontents is adequately contained by Kim's state police apparatus .
17Even in its external relationship, containment is a key strategy of the North. Under pressure from world events, the North has tried to minimize potential damage by adjusting its policies in areas that can be strictly contained or controlled by the regime. Congressman. Solarz has referred to this behavior by the North as the "illusion of cooperation." Expanded trade with the South and the rest of the world is a goal of the North, for instance. Yet the regime can easily explain away that activity to i ts citizens. I have heard that "Made in the ROK" labels have been replaced with "Made in China7' labels, for example. The Tumen River free trade zone discussions are ongoing, and perhaps that concept will become a reality. But it could be shrouded in secr e cy up along the extreme northeastern border of the country. Foreigners are allowed into North Korea, but prohib- ited from wandering freelyorhavingunsupervised contactmath -citizens. The average man on the street in Pyongyang was told that the foreigners w ho came to the city to participate in Kim's birthday gala were there because the entire world was celebrating the event. On the North-South dialogue front, the Kim regime obviously has a monopoly on communicating official news about those talks to its peo p le. Regarding military matters, for instance, the North Korean government is taking credit for easing the military threat from the United States by extracting from Washing- ton and from Seoul non-nuclear pledges and a promise to postpone ourTeam Spirit mi l itary exercises. This is the kind of spin the North Koreans put on the North-South dialogue. So one can make the case that despite some significant changes in the North's policies, these adjust- ments have been made in areas that are insulated from direct public scrutiny. Prospects for substantial openings of the North's society seem doubtful. Lifting the lid on the free exchange of people or information crossing the border would quickly reveal to the North Koreans that they have been deceived and that the y do not live in a "paradise on earth," as it is called by the gov- ernment. Still, a leadership change is in progress in the North. No one can predict its outcome. Transi- tion to a post-Kim em may not be a stable process. Internal change will come eventu a lly, I believe, but the problem is it could take years or it could begin tomorrow. In any case, I agree with Congressman Solarz when he says that reunification of Korea will not be achie@ed until there is a change in North Korea, whether evolutionary or r e volutionary. In the meantime a con- certed united front among the ROK, Japan, and the U.S. must and should be maintained. Just as the demise of Communism and Seoul's success in forging relations with former socialist states have forced the North to change some of its policies, so, too, has the parallel cooperation and co- ordination among Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington. The U.S. should continue what Congressman Solarz called the carrot and stick approach regarding North Korean policy. The nuclear threat from North Korea correctly remains an essential concern of the Administration. Chung Yung fi- nally has allowed for initial inspections to begin, but the results are not reassuring. It is clear that the North has now produced an unknown amount of enriched nucl e ar fuel, and we have yet to as- certain whether there are significant quantities stored away somewhere or whether- there -are- ongoing reprocessing activities hidden from view in some of the underground caverns that Con- gressman Solarz; referred to. Unti l this matter is fully resolved, the U.S. should refrain from substantially upgrading eco- nomic or political ties with North Korea. It keeps the lines of communication open, however, to avoid any miscalculation by the North Koreans of U.S. intentions. The Bush Administration wisely has maintained regular diplomatic contacts in neutral settings with ranking DPRK offi- cials. Now that it is free from focusing on potential superpower confrontation related to the Korean Peninsula, it is also time for the U.S. a nd other nations to focus more directly on human rights abuses in the North. We know now that our constant harping on human rights has made a difference in some areas of the world. The Helsinki Accords, of course, obviously had an impact on the Eastern Bl oc. On the other side of the fence, there have been changes in places like South Africa, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Consider South Korea, where until recently human rights
18was a key concern of the U.S. government. I was struck today by an artic le in the Washington Post which proclaims that after decades of authoritarianism, "South Korea has turned itself into a democracy where no one but the voter can determine who will be elected president."' Well, I think it is North Korea's turn to feel the h eat. U.S. government officials should be more vocal in their support for reform and openness in the North. The nuclear issue has virtually monopolized the attention of our policy makers, and it is time to expand that focus a bit. In addition to official g o vernment efforts, private sector exchanges are very important. It may soon be time to consider easing or even ending restrictions placed upon doing business in North Korea, depending on the outcome of the nuclear issue. As more and more journalists, acade m ics, and busindsmenViiii th6 Nofth,the'lid Will gradually be lobsened.Torums such as this one are important as well in raising consciousness among Americans, their government representatives, and the media. Institutes and think tanks that once focused con s iderable attention on the ROK's authoritarian past should consider looking into the plight of the people north of the DMZ. I will conclude by quoting Ambassador Hyun Hong-choo, who recently had some interesting things to say about human rights in North Ko r ea. He pointed out that it is a "root problem," not a peripheral one. Can we expect, he asked, for the North to substantially change its external poli- cies while its internal system remains the same? He concluded that we cannot expect this, and I agree w ith him.