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January 3, 2005
South Korea Sells Out

The New York Times reports today on the sudden distaste for asylum-seekers from North Korea with the Russians, but James Brooke's report talks more about South Korea than the Russian Federation. Defections from Kim Jong-Il's workers paradise has always neen an issue for the Russians (as well as the Chinese), but one that the Russians had tolerated until now. The change appears driven by North Korea and, surprisingly, South Korea as well:

In a new twist, diplomats from South Korea now work to discourage defectors from North Korea.

Under new rules, South Korea is reducing resettlement payments to North Koreans by two-thirds. Defectors are to be scrupulously investigated. South Korea says that will help weed out criminals, spies and ethnic Koreans from China.

Human rights advocates say South Korea's stricter policy is intended to curry favor with China and North Korea, and to slow a rising influx of refugees, which hit a record high of 1,850 at the end of 2004.

"The situation in South Korea itself has changed," said an ethnic Korean-Russian travel agent here who used to help North Koreans get to Seoul. "Now it seems that North Koreans are not welcomed there anymore."

Seoul appears to be less concerned with security issues than with appeasing and enabling the Stalinist North Korean government. Suddenly now that the two Korean capitols are immersed in nuclear negotiations, the South Koreans have withdrawn the traditional and laudable hospitality they've offered to their cousins escaping Kim Jong-Il's oppression and starvation. Russians have followed suit, if only because they don't want North Korean refugees staying in Russia permanently due to Seoul's refusal to accept them.

South Koreans need to ask themselves if they believe in freedom for all Koreans, or just below the 38th Parallel.

UPDATE: Read Tim Worstall's piece for better perspective on Russian motivations, which appear much more understandable than those of South Korea.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 3, 2005 5:42 AM

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» North Korea, Russia and "Contract Workers" from Tim Worstall
Captain Ed catches something in the NY Times. In a nutshell, it is now the South Koreans who are dissuading North Koreans in Russia from defecting. Ed suspects a rather cynical realpolitik:Seoul appears to be less concerned with security issues [Read More]

Tracked on January 3, 2005 7:38 AM

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