4:31 pm - 05/24/2012

How to Avoid Criticizing North Korea

Journalists who encounter South Korea’s left-wing politicians, the ones who can’t bring themselves to say a critical word about North Korea, have grown accustomed to the way they duck and weave around questions about the North’s dictatorship and human rights abuses – things these politicians did criticize about South Korea in the past.

But it’s rare to see the artful dodge on national TV.


It happened on Tuesday night on MBC’s weekly issues chatfest “100 Minutes’ Debate.” The show featured Lee Sang-kyu, a member of the now-embattled United Progressive Party who was elected to parliament from a district in western Seoul in last month’s election.

The UPP has nearly imploded after its various factions came to blows at a party conference earlier this month. At issue: alleged vote-rigging in an election inside the party to choose the list of proportional candidates, the ones who get into the parliament based on the overall popularity of the party in the national tally. Earlier this week, prosecutors began investigating the party.

Then, near the end of the MBC program Tuesday night, Mr. Lee was asked by an audience member to explain his views on North Korea’s human rights problems, the succession of Kim Jong Eun and its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

His response, or non-response, followed a pattern that seems to have become repeated so often in recent years by ultra-leftists that we wonder if it’s taught somewhere:

Step 1: Cast the question as an attack on freedom and, if possible, raise the specter of South Korea’s days under a military dictator.

Mr. Lee began his response by saying, “It’s really a shame that a ‘color debate’ [anti-communist attack] is re-emerging and the term ‘pro-North’ lingers on, which was started during the military dictatorships when the two Koreas confronted each other. It’s suffocating the freedom of thought and ideology and I think this kind of question and logic has a lot of problems.”

Step 2: Show some expertise by mentioning that you went to North Korea, that is, if you have gone.

Mr. Lee continued by describing a visit to Pyongyang in which he found the city to be “gray.” He added, “As a liberal activist, I was really shocked. We need to see North Korea as it is, based on brotherhood and as a partner for unification.”

Step 3: When pressed, recast the question as an obstacle to the goal of unification, leaving unsaid that all Koreans are supposed to want that.

When Mr. Lee’s questioner accused him of evading her question, Mr. Lee responded, ““The question on these three issues gets simplified into whether it’s right to develop inter-Korean relations peacefully or worsen them. The question itself is wrong.”

Source: wall street journal
fivil 24th-May-2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
Korea doesn't have any left-wing politicians who are critical of North Korea's human rights abuses? That's what the article makes it sound like..
akaich0u 24th-May-2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
More like there is an emergence of ULTRA-left wing politicians who want to avoid condemning said human rights abuse, as exemplified by this particular politician's behavior (Lee).
deerlike 24th-May-2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
Also to be taken into account is the source of this article: WSJ is a "centrist" publication in theory, but it's still more to the right than left. It wouldn't highlight left-wing politicians in South Korea who DO condemn North Korea's human rights abuses. Instead it's taking the typical tack of lambasting "those liberal pinko politicians who love communist dictators and their regimes!"
msdaccxx 24th-May-2012 02:53 pm (UTC)
That's what all politicians of any stripe do when faced with a question they don't want to answer
supplanter 24th-May-2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
What is "gray" supposed to mean/imply? Just that it's normal?
akaich0u 24th-May-2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
As long as North Korea continues treating its people in a sub-human manner and denying them of basic rights on top of being a belligerent cesspool of cruelty, we can criticize them all the fuck we want. Diplomacy is important, but so is truth. Of all the things to want and sugarcoat/be politically correct about.....
lexissexist 24th-May-2012 06:44 pm (UTC)
How shocking. A WSJ article that casts left-wing politicians as crypto-fascist NK sympathizers.
deerlike 24th-May-2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
Heh. I should have scrolled down and read your comment, because it expressed my thoughts perfectly.
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