By Robert Hurst
The Kims and I
It was a murder, 35 years ago, that sparked my fascination with North Korea.
In the autumn of 1983, I had interviewed the Foreign Minister of South Korea, Lee Beom-seok. Mr. Lee was exceedingly helpful to a Canadian correspondent trying to understand the Koreas.
A few weeks later, on October 9, 1983, Foreign Minister Lee was assassinated by North Korea. He was one of four South Korean Cabinet Ministers who were killed that day when an enormous bomb exploded in Rangoon, Burma. North Korean agents had planted the bomb.
In the succeeding decades, I have been mesmerized by North Korea, an outlaw state run by a narcissistic family who have murdered, tortured and imprisoned with impunity for decades.
For several weeks now, we’ve seen President Donald Trump sucking up to the brutal dictator in North Korea. Trump, fawning, actually used the word “honorable.”
One wonders if President Trump has ever read a book or scanned a briefing paper, or listened to a defector from North Korea. For 70 years, the Kim family has brutalized and terrorized nearly every single living person in North Korea, a country of 23-million people.
Kim Jong-un is the third mafia don. He’s the grandson of ‘The Great Leader” and son of the “Dear Leader.” In chat rooms across Asia, Kim Jong-un is called “Kim Fatty the Third.” If his secret police heard you say that, you would be arrested and tortured. So would your family. If you admit you are a Christian, you would be shot.
If we watch President Trump at the Singapore Summit shake hands and embrace the 32-year-old Kim, one might ask, “How many people, Mr. Kim, were tortured to death in your gulags this week?”
Five years ago, the United Nations was so concerned about stories of depravity and genocide leaking out of North Korea that it formed a Commission to investigate. The UN rarely does that, but the world’s diplomats felt an overwhelming moral responsibility.
A learned Australian High Court Justice, Michael Kirby, led the Commission. The damning report documented extensive atrocities. The UN Commission wanted to refer its findings to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It wanted to prosecute Kim Jong-un and his inner circle for crimes against humanity.
Nothing was done.
Maybe Donald, on your flight over to Singapore, you might study some of the words used by the UN Special Commission: “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape, forced abortions, prolonged forced starvation.”
So what, Donald, is your goal?
The Kims have made kissy-face and cuddle-up before. They have promised to de-nuclearize before. They have lied and cheated before.
John Bolton, the new White House National Security Advisor was once asked: “How do you know when the North Koreans are lying?” “When they move their lips,” he said.
The Kim clan, like most mafia outfits, is motivated by one thing: family longevity. Presumably regime change will not be on the bargaining table in Singapore.
It’s easy to forget that 516 Canadian soldiers died carrying the UN flag during the Korean War. Kim Jong-un’s grandfather started the war and the Kim family has vowed to finish it with a victory. Yet there is political movement on the Korean Peninsula. A Nobel Peace prize, say some Republicans, is there for the taking.
So Donald, will you be tough with this outlaw state, or will the Kims, like so many US Presidents in the past, seduce you?
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