As I attempt to complete a class assignment, which requires me to come up with a defense policy toward North Korea, I find myself asking questions beyond the US defense strategy. I wandered onto YouTube, partly because it is much less exciting to read one 30 page report after another, and partly because I wanted a glimpse of these people’s lives. For, as Mr. Masty regularly elucidates, Americans can only understand a country’s military strategy and political regime when they are immersed in the culture.
I found this documentary, among others, especially the BBC one, and it struck me in a more poignant way than any report I have read. If you have a few minutes, I think it is well worth your time:
After watching and reading, my question for this conservative forum is this: What is the Conservative’s response to genocide occurring across the ocean? It seems dangerous to presuppose that the United States has a responsibility to establish justice and democracy across the globe. When we look at Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt, and even Korea, it becomes evident that the United States involvement often causes more hardships and discontent among the people.
The idea of “democratizing” the world rests on shaky ground when the US neglects the mores and dogmas that define particular cultures and habits of the people. Yet, can we as Christians and Conservatives neglect the injustices that plague the oppress people daily? From Sudan to Tibet, from India to Ecuador, from Libya to Afghanistan, people die from starvation, disease, and oppression. In North Korea, over 30,000 family members are detained in concentration camp #22. These people don’t know why they are there, but most will never see the other side of the layers of electric fence. One soldier admitted, when people come in, they are told “to treat them not as humans.” These 30,000, and the other thousands across the little country, have been stripped of all dignity and all humanity for the sake of Kim Jong-il.
This horror, however, does not remain in the concentration camps–it seeps into the lives of each person, rich or poor. It stares at them every day as they bow to the “great Leader”, as they sing praises to the giver of all gifts, as they gloat at his feet. He has brainwashed the people; they are robots, acting as extensions of the state, with no human will or liberty, with no beauty or love. He has extracted everything good within humans and left the people starving for a savior–who they find in the “great Leader.” He has blinded the people until the only thing they can see is his power.
Can we continue to plug in our i-pods, and tweet our complaints, and eat three meals a day as we forget the horrors so many suffer? Yes, we can keep living our lives, and we should enjoy the blessings we are given, but let us recognize that they are blessings. Yet, what can we, as fellow humans, do for the people of North Korea? I know we can pray, but what, if any, actions should we take? Does the government have a role in preventing or combating injustices?
I ask these questions not because I expect to find a solution, but because I wonder if they are worth thinking about. If one day we will look back on 2010 and ask ourselves how we allowed so many people to die under the terror and power of Kim Jong-il.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.