The Korea Liberator
If You Know What’s Good for You . . .

In one of the most disturbing stories of the year, we see the reprehensible authoritarian depths to which the South Korean government will stoop to protect its political power and money-making ventures from the truth that must be kept inside the North Korean defectors who know it. . . .

南北 비판한 탈북자 19% “말조심 협박 받아”

Nineteen Percent of North Korean Escapees Who Criticize Governments of South or North Korea Report Being Censored with Threats [The article uses the term 새터민, or escapees, to describe the defectors, instead of the more common 탈북자].

한국 정부나 북한 정권을 비판한 새터민(탈북자) 5명 가운데 1명이 정부 관계자에게서 “말조심하라”는 주의나 협박을 받았다는 조사 결과가 나왔다.

Newly released research results reveals that one in five North Korean defectors who criticized the South Korean government or North Korean regime receive warnings or threats from [South Korean] administration officials.

국가인권위원회(위원장 조영황·趙永晃)가 26일 발표한 ‘국내 탈북자의 인권상황 개선 연구 보고서’에 따르면 새터민의 16.2%가 한국 사회에서 자유롭게 말할 수 없다고 응답했다.

The National Human Rights Commission (Cho Young-Whang, Chairman) released its report, “Research Report on Improvements in the Human Rights Situation of North Korean Escapees Living in South Korea,” on [January] 26th. According to the report, 16.2% of escapees reported that they don’t have freedom of speech in South Korea today.

인권위의 의뢰를 받은 국제평화전략연구원은 새터민 500여 명을 설문 조사하고 50명을 심층 면접해 이 보고서를 작성했다.

The HRC commissioned the International Peace Strategy Center to conduct the research for its report. The IPC questioned 500 North Korean escapees and did more in-depth interviews of 50 of them.

한국 정부나 북한 당국, 김정일(金正日) 북한 국방위원장에 대해 비판적인 글을 쓴 적이 있는 새터민 가운데 19%는 정부 관계자에게서 말조심하라는 주의 또는 협박을 들었고 18.2%는 정착 지원금과 생계 보조비 등을 지원받는 데 불이익을 당한 적이 있다고 응답했다.

Nineteen percent of escapees who had criticized the South Korean government, the North Korean regime, or Kim Jong Il [in writing] received a warning or threat by administration officials. Another 18.2% responded that they were disadvantaged in the distribution of their initial government settlement benefit and living subsidies.

새터민의 73.7%가 가족 월평균 수입이 100만 원 미만이라고 응답했으며 이들 가운데 가족 월평균 수입이 50만 원 미만인 사람은 41.3%였다. 경제적으로 잘산다고 생각한다는 새터민은 2.2%에 불과했다.

Seventy-three point seven percent of escapees responded that their average monthly family incomes were under one million won [$1,000], and 41.3% said their monthly family incomes were under W500,000. Only 2.2% of escapees considered themselves wealthy.

새터민들은 정착 과정에서 많은 차별을 받고 있다고 생각하는 것으로 나타났다. 10명 가운데 7명이 직장에서 차별을 받는다고 응답했고 승진에서도 차별을 받는다는 응답자가 절반을 넘었다.

Most escapees believed they had been discriminated against during the settlement process. Seven out of 10 reported being discriminated against at work, and more than half said they had been discriminated against in the promotion process.

새터민 학생 가운데 절반은 탈북 사실을 친구들에게 숨기고 학교에 다니고 있었으며, 약 20%는 새터민이라는 이유로 학교에서 따돌림을 당한다고 응답했다.

Around half of North Korean-born students conceal their origins from their friends, and about 20% feel isolated by their peers at school because they are North Korean.

새터민들은 새터민의 인권 개선을 위해 새터민을 보는 한국 사회의 시각 변화, 취업난 해소, 국내 적응을 위한 교육 기회 확대, 대안학교 설립 등이 시급하다고 응답했다.

When asked about the most urgent priorities for improving their human rights, ecapees cited the need to change South Korean society’s views about them, to address their employment difficulties, to improve their educational opportunities for adapting to life in the South, and building alternative schools for their children.

I just don’t know how anyone can defend this. Expanded to its literal meaning, the question applies to the United States government. And a big tip of my hat to my favorite target, the National Human Rights Commission, for having the balls to release this report.

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[…] Before Roh Moo Hyun took office, we didn’t see the flaunting of public discrimination against U.S. soldiers, South Korean declarations of neutrality, or polling data indicating virulent and widespread anti-Americanism.  Not long after South Korean achieved more-or-less full democracy, it has already begun to abandon once-shared values on human rights, tried to muzzle the free press, silenced defectors, censored human rights criticism of North Korea, and let violent leftist street thugs intimidate those with whom they disagree, including the U.S. Ambassador. […]

[…] Robert goes even further, alleging that critics of the government have “come dangerously close to slandering the government internationally.”  OK, assume for argument’s sake that these allegations are all made up.  Slander includes “defam[ing] and damag[ing] another’s reputation,” which I take to mean that the South Korean government is really some sort of maligned paragon of free expression.  Consider that defense in light of a recent report by South Korea’s own National Human Rights Commission, in which nearly one in five defectors claimed that the South Korean government pressured them to keep quiet about what they saw in North Korea.  And of course, the stories of this government trying to censor press coverage critical of North Korea is very old news by now. […]

[…] That being said, if the U.S. has only so much room, better to set it aside for those in greater peril in China, Vietnam, or Thailand. For those not among the nearly 20% of refugees who report being subjected to censorship by South Korea, the ROK is a place where they can speak, live, and eat relatively freely. It’s a long-standing principle of international law that a refugee doesn’t get to hop from refuge to refuge. […]

[…] On the other hand, Andy wonders if he’s missing the evidence that South Korea silences defectors. I think the answer to the latter question is that it does, at least if you believe this recent report by the South Korean National Human Rights Commission. I’m not sure what qualifies as “bush-league” harassement, however, or whether anything the South Korean government did or willfully failed to prevent meets that definition. […]

[…] Later, Lee said that “the government does not and cannot suppress North Korean defectors, let alone anyone else,” a claim that plenty of the defectors themselves would dispute, even if it may (or may not) have been true of the particular case of Ma Young-Ae. South Korea has also drawn international criticism for its attempts to censor opposition media. […]

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