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Canada Should Play Conscientious Role in Korea

NOVANEWS

Featured image: A family eats ice cream in North Korea (Source: Eva Bartlett)

Lawyer Chris Black and Prof. Graeme MacQueen are helping build a revitalized peace movement. Part of that involves standing up to the barrage of propaganda on North Korea, and demanding that our government play a more positive role in defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. We discuss their recent op-ed article in the Toronto Star, the less-known reality of Korea, and the U.S. as a stopping block to peace.

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South and North Korea Talks: A Thaw in Relations?

NOVANEWS

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Gregory Elich interviewed by Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon.

The recent talks between North and South Korea, what if any progress was made in thawing relations between the two countries, what to expect politically from the Winter Olympics being held in South Korea, and why South Korean President Moon continues to desire close relations with the

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Canada Should Play Conscientious Role in Korea

NOVANEWS
 

Featured image: A family eats ice cream in North Korea (Source: Eva Bartlett)

Lawyer Chris Black and Prof. Graeme MacQueen are helping build a revitalized peace movement. Part of that involves standing up to the barrage of propaganda on North Korea, and demanding that our government play a more positive role in defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. We discuss their recent op-ed article in the Toronto Star, the less-known reality of Korea, and the U.S. as a stopping block to peace.

Posted in Canada, North Korea, South Korea0 Comments

Sabotaging Peace in Korea

NOVANEWS
Image result for TRUMP Sabotaging Peace IN KORIA CARTOON
By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF 

It just might be that the two Koreas are figuring out a way to avoid war, much to the anger and chagrin of President Trump and the U.S. national-security establishment, who are obviously increasingly viewing war as inevitable and even in the best interests of the United States.

Why, even the U.S. mainstream press, which oftentimes seems to operate as an ex officio spokesman for the U.S. government, appears irritated over North Korea’s initiation of talks with South Korea. The press describes North Korea’s overtures not as an attempt to avoid war but instead as a cynical attempt to “drive a wedge” between the United States and South Korea.

Actually, it’s President Trump, who is obviously upset that the Koreas are marginalizing him, that is using his ridiculous and dangerous tweeting abilities to further provoke North Korea, with the obvious intent of “driving a wedge” between North Korea and South Korea, a wedge that could conceivably sabotage talks between them.

Let’s first get to the root of the problem in Korea. That root is the U.S. government, specifically the U.S. national-security branch of the government, i.e., the Pentagon and the CIA. That’s the reason there is a crisis in Korea. That’s the reason why war could suddenly break out, killing hundreds of thousands of people and more if it the war turns nuclear.

The U.S. government and its acolytes in the mainstream press say that the problem is with North Korea’s nuclear development program.

Balderdash! The problem is with the Pentagon’s and CIA’s decades-old aim to effect regime change in North Korea, a Cold War aim that they have never been able to let go of. That’s why the Pentagon has some 35,000 troops stationed in South Korea. That’s why they have regular military exercises over there. That’s why they have those bomber fly-overs. They want regime change, bad, just like they still do in Cuba and Iran, and just like they wanted (and got) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, and so many other countries.

That’s why North Korea wants nuclear bombs — to protect its communist regime by deterring the United States from attacking and fulfilling its decades-old aim of regime change. North Korea knows that a nuclear deterrent is the only thing that might deter the Pentagon and the CIA from attacking.

The nuclear deterrent strategy certainly worked for Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Once the Soviet Union installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, that stopped the Pentagon and the CIA from attacking and invading the island again and even caused President Kennedy to vow that the Pentagon and the CIA would not again invade the island.

North Korea also has seen what happens to impoverished Third World regimes that don’t have nuclear weapons, like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. They go down quickly to defeat and regime change at the hands of an all-powerful First World country.

Here’s the big point: Korea is none of the U.S. government’s business. Never has been and never will be. The Korean conflict was always nothing more than a civil war. A civil war in an Asian country is none of the U.S. government’s business. It wasn’t in the 1950s when the war broke out. It still isn’t. Korea is the business of the Korean people.

Keep in mind also that U.S. interventionism into the Korean War was always illegal under our form of constitutional government. The Constitution, which the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA, swear to uphold, requires a congressional declaration of war. There was never a congressional declaration of war against North Korea. That means that U.S. troops and CIA agents had no legal right to kill anyone in Korea, not with rifles, artillery, carpet bombing, or with the use of germ warfare against the North Korean people.

The Pentagon and the CIA claimed that it was necessary to illegally intervene in Korea because the communists were coming to get us. It was a lie, just as the entire Cold War was a lie. It was all just one great big fear-mongering racket to solidify the power and control of the military and intelligence services over the American people.

Those 35,000 U.S. troops in Korea today have no business being there, not only because the communists are still not coming to get us but also because they are simply the outgrowth of the original illegal intervention in the 1950s. The Pentagon has those troops there for one reason and only one reason: No, not to defend and protect the South Korean people, who are of minor importance to U.S. officials compared to the United States, but rather to serve as “tripwire” to guarantee U.S. involvement should war once again break out between the two Koreas.

In other words, no congressional deliberation on a declaration of war on whether to get involved should war break out. No national debate. Once tens of thousands of troops are automatically killed, the United States is, as a practical matter, stuck, trapped, committed. That’s why the Pentagon and the CIA have those troops there — to box in the American people — to deprive them of a choice on whether to get involved in another land war in Asia or not.

That makes U.S. soldiers in Korea nothing more than little pawns. Their assigned role is to die in order to ensure that Congress has no say on whether the U.S. gets involved in another land war in Asia. The Pentagon and the CIA, not Congress, remain in charge.

Why hasn’t the U.S. already attacked North Korea? One big reason: China. It says that if the United States starts the war, it’s coming in on the side of North Korea. China has lots of troops that could easily be sent into Korea to fight against U.S. forces. It also has a nuclear capability that can easily hit the United States.

So, that leaves Trump and his national security establishment doing their best to provoke North Korea into “firing the first shot,” or at least making it look like they have fired the first shot, like what happened at the Gulf of Tonkin or what the Pentagon hoped to accomplish with Operation Northwoods and a concocted war against Cuba.

If Trump can successfully taunt, tease, antagonize, and provoke North Korea into attacking first, then he and his national-security establishment can exclaim, “We’ve been attacked by the communists! We’re shocked! We’re innocent! We have no choice but to protect America by carpet-bombing North Korea again, this time with nuclear bombs.”

And as long as it’s not the United States that suffers the death and destruction, it will all be considered acceptable. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops will be dead. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans will also be dead. Both countries will be devastated. But the United States will remain intact and, equally important, will no longer be threatened by North Korea’s growing nuclear capability. It will all be considered a victory as far as the United States is concerned.

That’s why the South Koreans are smart in agreeing to talk to North Korea. If they were really smart, they would give Trump, the Pentagon, and the CIA the boot. The best thing South Korea could ever do is immediately kick out every U.S. soldier and every CIA agent out of their country. Send them packing back to the United States.

Sure, Trump would be hopping bad, just as the Pentagon and the CIA would be. So what? It would be the best thing that could ever happen to Korea, the United States, and the world.

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How Politics Shaped the Korean War

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www.nationalparks.org

As is the case in any war, politics can be a driving force.  Militarist Carl von Clausewitz said that “war is politics by another means.”  The Korean War was no different than any other war.  Many decisions involving the conduction of the war were politically driven on both the domestic and foreign fronts.  Conversely United States’ politics was affected by the Korean War.

The United States was involved in the economic recovery of Europe at the end of World War II.  This assistance had the beginnings of anti-Russian communist intent. The Truman Doctrine promised U.S. aid to any country who sought protection from aggression, either externally or internally, by countries or factions within countries who espoused Communism.   The Truman Doctrine gave Turkey and Greece economic support but was also a doctrine of encirclement as it also included Iran, Pakistan, Japan, and China.  Also at this time the French were back in Indochina and the United States’ aid was supplied to Chiang Kai-shek for his Nationalist cause in China.

The Marshall Plan poured money into the recovery of Europe after World War II.  European countries were pleased with U.S. aid and sought assurances of total U.S. attention to their concerns.  The European nations did not want money diverted from their uses to that of the Koreans as these people fought for their freedom and reunification.  Congress sided with the European countries.  Europe also wanted assurances that the U.S. would assist in keeping Russia out of Eastern Europe.  Involvement on a second front, in the Pacific, might very well cause United States’ support to be lessened on the European front

Before U.S. involvement in Korea the Republican Party was comprised of internationalists and their counterpart isolationists.  The isolationists, under the guise of non-interventionism were support for Nazi Germany and feared that FDR’s New Deal policies were socialist in base.  Additionally, key Republicans had long term business relationships in Nazi Germany.    These businessmen and corporations used isolationist policies in an attempt to pressure the government into continuing to give them a free hand to support German war industries despite the Neutrality Act.

Though isolationists and noninterventionists were characterized as Midwestern conservatives, often of German ancestry, these groups full filled a primary purpose of influencing public opinion against American efforts against Axis intervention on a world-wide scale.

The eighty-first Congress, which Harry Truman had inherited with his Presidential win, had no intention of cooperating with its new commander-in-chief by supporting the Truman Doctrine or the Marshall Plan.   The conservatives did not share Truman’s or Secretary of State Marshall’s enthusiasm for a program for containment of Communism.   Republicans wanted an end to the graduated income tax, no labor unions, an end to the social security system, end of antitrust legislation, and a foreign policy based on the use of military force in support of American economic interests. Conservative Democrats (Dixiecrats) wanted   continued restriction of voting franchise, an implementation of a national police force with broad powers of search and seizure, control of the press, arrest and detention without habeas corpus, recognition and implementation of a national religion that is Christian, Protestant, Evangelistic and xenophobic with mandated prayer in schools and direct financial support for religious institutions, the creation of a secondary level of citizenship based on race, religion, national origin, political beliefs, and a series of physiological and intellectual criteria, and restriction of women’s rights and the enfranchisement of women.. This is the traditional Republican agenda.

The collapse of the Nationalist China gave the Republicans fuel against the Democrats.  The United States wrote the China White Papers to state its attitude towards the Communist versus Nationalist civil war in China.  The U.S. denied any responsibility for the loss of mainland China to the Communists, but the Republicans issued a public statement that the U.S. withheld weapons from the Nationalist Chinese and placed Asia in danger of being consumed by Communism.   The Republican Party wanted Kai-shek returned to mainland China and did not want the Truman Administration to recognize Red China.   The China White Paper states that “social and political upheavals within China gave Communists the country.”    Republicans blamed the results on pro-Communists in both Roosevelt’s and Truman’s administrations and further declared that these pro-Communist groups gave China to the Communists.

Senator Joseph McCarthy attacked the State Department and accused it of being pro-Communist and responsible of Mao’s victory in China.  McCarthy said, “In my opinion the State Department, which is one of the most important government departments, is thoroughly infested with Communists.”   The explosion of Russia’s first atomic bomb and the conviction of Alger Hiss for perjury after declaring he had never been in the Communist party all increased the pervading fear or distrust of Communism.

A Congressional election was approaching for November 1950 and the Republicans decided the most effective way to win more seats in Congress was by opposing the current administration. Congress was often divided on acceptable policies in dealing with the Korean War.   This political body alternately advocated the opposite positions of complete withdrawal from the Korean Peninsula or the waging of an all-out war against China.   An all-out war at this time would have meant global war.  “The Congressional Republicans throughout the 1950-1953 periods were seriously divided over the question of transforming the unification of Korea from a political to a military goal.

David Rees, author of Korea: The Limited War states that “The Korean decision was primarily a political decision in the Jeffersonian tradition of American idealism.”   The U.S. interest in Korea went beyond disgust of the Communist invasion of Korea, a defenseless country.

A limited war is a political war in that the home government’s political demands restrain the military.   The U.S. at times favored a limited war despite the military wishes for all-out war.  The three reasons why the U.S. decided to conduct a limited war were that they did not want to provoke Russia to enter the war, did not want to overextend in Korea and leave Europe vulnerable, and the U.S. allies were reluctant to expand the war.  The Republican dominated Eightieth Congress cut defense spending and delayed appropriating money for the army in 1949.  This was why the U.S. withdrew from South Korea in September of 1947.  Congress withheld monies again when it refused to give $60 million more in 1950 and 1951.  Without money armies cannot be maintained.

In the early part of the war the congressional Republicans approved of U.S. actions of moving into Korea.  Republican Senator Knowland warned of a Munich-like appeasement.  He vowed that if Korea fell to Communism, then all of Asia would be threatened.    He referred to appeasement as surrender on the installment plan. Republican Alexander Smith of New Jersey said,” We Republicans to a man—while we have been critical of the Far Eastern policy of the past—are united now with the administration.   While some Republicans were behind the administration, McCarthy was spouting that any failure of foreign policy was due to Communists within the State Department.

Eventually Republicans rallied around McCarthy and also joined in the anti-communist rhetoric.  Even Democrats voted for anti-subversive legislation.   There were witch hunts for Communists in the United States including the State Department.  Public demand for anti-Communist and anti-subversive legislature encouraged both Republicans and Democrats to vote for these measures.  The anti-communism band wagon seemed like a good ride as the elections of 1950 approached.  The Republicans planned to unseat the Democrats in Congress.

Republican charges of subversion in the administration colored foreign policy in the Far East.  By the summer of 1950 Truman had rejected peace efforts by India and England.  Then the administration used the conflict to achieve policy objectives in Europe.   The peace efforts of both India and England included the acceptance of People’s Republic of China into the United Nations as well as Korean War settlement. England wanted to maintain good relations with China for her own economic reasons.   If the administration had shown a willingness to accept Communist China, the Republicans would have used this to prove that there were Communists in the Administration as well as the State Department.  Public opinion in the U.S. was in favor of not accepting India’s peace initiative.

Republicans had allocated a tremendous amount of money for military aid in South Korea in October, 1949.  This money was to be used to build Korea’s army, but was never used for this purpose.  This would have been due to the reservations of the administration to give Rhee an army to use at his own discretion.  The administration was concerned that Rhee would take this army and attack North Korea and this would bring China and Russia into the fight.

The republicans had started to “prey on the fears of the electorate in times of crisis for the sake of political gain.”   The conspiracy group in Congress started to say that the U.S. had deliberately lost Manchuria, China, Korea, and Berlin in a loss of strategic areas throughout the world.   Republicans played on the U.S. population’s mounting fear of Communism within the U.S. as well as through out the world.

Truman asked Congress to “…remove the limitations on size of armed forces…authorize the establishment of priorities and allocations of materials to prevent hoarding and requisitioning of necessary supplies…raise taxes and restrict consumer credit…and (allocate) an additional ten billion for defense.”    The authority to control prices, wages, and distribution of consumer goods at retail level vested in the President more arbitrary power over lives of American people than any other legislation past or present.   Republicans demanded a cut in domestic spending and protested the increase powers the President would have.

The major fact that Truman did not consult with Congress before committing troops to Korea affected the 1950 Congressional elections.  If he had consulted them, hoping they would approve, those opposed to the way the conflict was going would have not be able to place blame on Truman and call the conflict Truman’s War.

Republican Senator Taft called for votes for the GOP in order to stop Communism on the home front, “creeping socialism” as well as high taxes and inflation.    Finger pointing at the Democrats in essence said that Democrats are why we have this problem with Communism and that is a good reason to get them out of Congress.

By 1950 the Republicans were supporting American intervention in Korea and aligned themselves with the “no substitute for victory” mentality of McArthur while at other times calling for withdrawal from Korea.  Congress professed to want intervention in Korea but withheld funds necessary to keep an army there.    It is possible that Truman may have thought about the political consequences of his acts, but this did not stop him from doing what he thought was necessary.  The policies changed from time to time and at times there seem to be some confusion as to which policy or military strategy was appropriate and would be successful. The Republicans used McCarthyism to create fear of Communism to turn the public against the administration. This was done strictly for partisan reasons and to affect elections.

By the 1952 Presidential election, the real intent of the Republican Party was visible.  Despite at one time wanting both the U.S. out of Korea and supporting McArthur’s all out policy they nominated a military hero who had no plan for ending the war even though his platform was against unification at times and all out military policy.  The Republican Party was not consistent in what it thought the U.S. should do and did not present a working alternative, thus what they did was for political maneuvering. Foreign politics put pressure on the United States to abandon financial aid to Korea to assist it in its fight for independence and reunification.  American politics did affect the Korean War, but not to the extent that the Republicans would have wished. Truman was able to conduct the war as he saw fit.  Domestic politics did bring a Republican President to the White House, but not one whose policies differed that much from the outgoing President’s.

References

Caridi, Ronald J.  The Korean War and American Politics: The Republican Party as a Case Study.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1968. pp. 3,5,11,12,15,21,29,55,98

Congressional Record, June 26, 1950. p. 9158

Congressional Record, July 5, 1950. p. 9666

Congressional Record, Aug. 14, 1950. p. 12400

Congressional Record, Sept. 5, 1950. p. 14214

Duff, Gordon.  Historian.

Goldman, Eric.  The Crucial Decade and After. New York, 1960. p. 142

Highman, Charles.  Trading With the Enemy:The Nazi-American Money  Plot 1933-1949.  New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1983. pp. XV-XiX.,7

Kaufman, Burton I.  The Korean War: Challenges in Crisis, Credibility, and Command.  New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1986. pp. 52, 55

Rees, David. Korea: The Limited War. New York, 1964. p. 11

Reeves, Thomas C.  Life and Times of Joe McCarthy.  New York, 1982. pp. 305-314

The New York Times, January 4, 1950, pp. 1 & 6

Truman Memoirs II. pp. 329, 348

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As North and South Korea Reciprocate Offers of Talks, Trump Responds: “I Too Have a Nuclear Button”

NOVANEWS

While the U.S. has been cold toward Kim Jong Un’s offer of Olympics talks with South Korea, Seoul has extended the hand of full-fledged diplomacy.

 

South Korea has responded to North Korean leader Kim Jong- un‘s diplomatic overture with an offer Tuesday to hold high-level talks between the countries on the border next week.

On New Year’s Day, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un announced that the country will seek participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea between Feb. 9-25, foretelling 2018 as a “year of reconciliation” even as he noted that he now had a “nuclear button” on his desk, referring to the country’s now-powerful nuclear deterrence and weapons delivery system.

In a Twitter message posted Tuesday night, U.S. President Donald Trump, referring to Kim, said:

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

The former reality television personality regularly pokes fun at his North Korean counterpart on Twitter, issuing various missives that have worried U.S. commentators due to their inflammatory and non-diplomatic nature. Kim has refused to back down, calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, however, welcomed Kim’s New Year address and asked his government to move as quickly as possible to bring North Korea to the Olympics, but he stressed that an improvement in inter-Korean relations “cannot go separately with resolving North Korea’s nuclear program.”

South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon said the offer for high-level talks next Tuesday had been discussed with the United States. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauertsaid she was not aware if the matter had been discussed in advance of the South Korean response.

Cho suggested the talks be held at the truce village of Panmunjeom in the De-Militarized Zone on Jan. 9, and said they should be focused on North Korea’s participation at the Olympics, but other issues would likely arise, including the denuclearization of North Korea.

“I repeat: The government is open to talking with North Korea, regardless of time, location and form,” Cho said.

Should the talks be held, it would be the first such dialogue since a vice-ministerial meeting in December 2015.

Moon Jae-In has long been an advocate of the so-called “Sunshine Policy” introduced in 1998 by South Korea’s then-President Kim Dae-Jung called for a slow process of confederated reunification and resulted in a blossoming of North-South relations, including large shipments of food aid to the North and a lifting of restrictions on joint business ventures.

The South Korean leader, who eventually earned a Nobel Peace Prize, even urged the U.S. to lift its embargo on the North. Pyongyang had, for the first time, established official ties with various European states while holding talks with the U.S. and Japan.

The policy broke down amid threats by the United States, whose then-President George W. Bushsaid that Pyongyang was a part of the “Axis of Evil” including Iraq and Iran.

The White House is lukewarm to the idea of the two Koreas holding talks, responding with a mixture of doubt and the usual sarcasm that has marked Trump’s attitude toward to diplomacy.

“Our policy on North Korea hasn’t changed at all. The United States is committed and will still continue to put maximum pressure on North Korea to change and make sure that it denuclearizes the peninsula,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Our goals are the same and we share that with South Korea, but our policy and our process has not changed.”

The State Department’s Nauert couldn’t help but express misgivings about potential talks, saying that North Korea might be “trying to drive a wedge of some sort” between the United States and South Korea and added that while it was up to Seoul to decide who it talked to:

“We are very skeptical of Kim Jong Un’s sincerity in sitting down and having talks.”

China, which has consistently expressed hopes that diplomacy be used to ease tensions, said the positive comments from the Koreans was a good thing.

“China welcomes and supports North Korea and South Korea taking earnest efforts to treat this as an opportunity to improve mutual relations, promote the alleviation of the situation on the Korean peninsula and realize denuclearization on the peninsula,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Since the end of the Second World War and the creation of the Republic of Korea under the supervision of the U.S. postwar occupation, Seoul has been a crucial linchpin of the U.S. Asia-Pacific security infrastructure.

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S. Korean President Moon’s Pardon: No “Prisoners of Conscience”

NOVANEWS

S. Korean President Moon’s Pardon: No “Prisoners of Conscience” Were Included in the Special Pardon.

Official Statement About the Special Pardon on December 29, 2017

No prisoners of conscience were included in the Special Pardon.

On December 29, 2017, President Moon Jae-in granted a special pardon in his first year in office. Since he left out the chance on the National Liberation Day and Chuseok, we looked forward to his first amnesty. However, we cannot believe the result even if we get to the contents. He is the president who didn’t release a single prisoner of conscience. So, why did he drag on until the last working day of 2017?

President Moon did not keep the victims of the former government warm.

The Minister of Justice took credit saying this special pardon was designed from the very start to help those convicted of crimes while trying to make a living. But it is not different from the previous disappointing government. This special pardon ignored all prisoners of conscience including Lee Seok-ki and Han Sang-gyun as well as the victims associated with the Sewol Ferry Tragedy and THAAD. 

The conscience of the government stopped in front of prisoners of conscience.

A related official of the Blue House said,

“There was a concern that the special pardon would lead to national division.”

It sounds like a cowardly excuse. The government would rather say that it was afraid that the approval rating or votes in the local election in 2018 would fall. As the poet Song Kyung-dong said,

“Is the government of Moon Jae-in afraid of Park Geun-hye and Lee Jae-yong in prison?”

President Moon Jae-in must know that human rights issues should be decided by a majority decision.

However, the fact that he dealt with all results through electronic approval during his vacation comes to our attention.

December 29, 2017, will be recorded in history as the day when the conscience of the government which was established as a result of the people’s Candlelight Movement [and the impeachment of president Park] betrayed both the prisoners of conscience [including those imprisoned by President Park] as well as the Candlelight Movement. 

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USA: “Being Detained Feels Like the Abuse I Tried to Escape”:

NOVANEWS

“Being Detained Feels Like the Abuse I Tried to Escape”: A Korean Survivor Speaks Out From Immigration Detention

By Yihwa Kim and Translated and Edited by Hyejin ShimTruthout 

(Photo: Gerolamo Auricchio / EyeEm / Getty Images)

(Photo: Gerolamo Auricchio / EyeEm / Getty Images)

Yihwa Kim is a Korean woman who fled her home country, South Korea, because of the extreme and prolonged domestic and sexual violence she suffered at the hands of her father and his various connections. She has been detained since April 2017 for seeking asylum in the United States. In November, her right to a bond hearing was denied by a judge who was a former prosecutor for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). During her hearing, this judge openly said that he sympathized with the prosecuting attorney for DHS and understood his position. With no end in sight to her detention — which has resulted in further trauma, medical neglect and the deterioration of her health — on December 1, Kim chose to withdraw her application for asylum in the US.

Within weeks, she will be forcibly returned to South Korea. At her December 1 hearing, she said: “Being forced to return to Korea is an act of suicide for me. But being imprisoned for another potential two or three years, like some others here … and to get no help for my medical conditions while I am detained … I don’t think dying in here is right, either.”

What follows is a translation of Kim’s firsthand account of her ordeal in the US detention system.

***

I still don’t know exactly why I was selected out for an extensive search and interview at the San Francisco airport when I arrived in April 2017. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers that apprehended me treated me disrespectfully, asking intrusive but unrelated questions about the purpose of my visit. Then, they sent me to a very small interrogation room without a window. Because I am claustrophobic, I begged them not to put me in that room. But no one paid attention to my pleas. They questioned me for hours, went through every item in my bags, and inspected them over and over before detaining me for the night. That night, I slept on a chair. The next day, the interrogation continued for several hours.

No interpreter was provided for me, let alone a lawyer. In that situation, most of what I agreed to do next was based on what the officers led me to do. When I was told that I would be sent back to Korea, I told them that I did not want to go back because I came to the US to escape my abusive father. So, they told me to apply for asylum. I didn’t know what it would entail, but I followed their instruction. The result was that I was sent to a detention center. I later found out that I could have been given humanitarian parole instead of detention, but since the Trump administration [took over], most of those in similar situations as me have been detained.

The first detention center that I was sent to was in Richmond, California. When I tried to ask for help from the guards, they threatened me with solitary confinement. For a while, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, at least not until I met a visiting lawyer who introduced me to a couple of Korean Americans. That is how I also learned about the Asian Women’s Shelter, [whose members] visited and helped me. But after about three months, I was sent to Mesa Verde Detention Center, a private immigration detention center in Bakersfield, California. On the day I was transferred, I was forced to get up at 4:30 am and moved around all day. The van we were transported in had no windows, which triggered my claustrophobia. Although I could get some air when the door was opened to receive more detainees, the inside of the van became suffocating and extremely hot under the July sun. We detainees were not given any water, food or bathroom breaks. I felt sick and nauseous, and had a hard time breathing. In the last three or four hours of the trip, all of us women were screaming and crying for help. One woman from El Salvador had severe panic attacks, and another woman from China was vomiting for hours. And no one listened to us or helped us. When we finally arrived at the new detention center, I was unconscious.

Here in Mesa Verde, I think that there are about 200 women. I am the only Korean, although there are about 16 more Asians. The officers and guards do not even know the difference between North and South Korea, or between Koreans and Chinese people. I found that the gap between American and Korean cultures was deep. I feared that even a Korean interpreter wouldn’t be able to find the exact English words to describe my life in Korea … And it’s not just words; any behavior or body language can be misunderstood.

I have been suffering from hepatitis, as well as other medical conditions that cause me much pain and discomfort. I don’t get any proper medical treatment inside the center. Most of the pills they provide for other symptoms — such as cold, fever and headache — could worsen my liver condition, so I cannot take them. The food rations are also intolerable: Not only do we get a very small amount, but the vegetables we are given also exude a bad stench and are inedible.

Detention officers often yell at detainees, discriminate against them based on their race and ethnicity, taunt them and sexually harass them. When I have tried to ask for better conditions, they have targeted me, calling me a North Korean slave, comparing me to an insect. Medical staff are just the same as the guards. Once, a detention center doctor (although I did not approve a check-up from him) touched my body, especially my chest. Another time, I had my left hand wrapped with a bandage due to an injury. An officer made me unwrap it, asked me to hold my two hands together, wrapped around them with the bandage like he was handcuffing me, and laughed at me. It was humiliating. One told me that I should act more submissively due to the fact that I was a Korean woman — a remark that not only stereotypes Korean women, but was also an attempt to subjugate me. Social workers make weekly visits to detainees to check if any of the officers abuse their power. They are sometimes kind to us, making conversation with us about our lives inside the detention center. But they also demoralize and put me down. They constantly tell me that I am not important, and that no one would care where I was.

I have been detained for eight months. From how I have been treated, I feel that the United States is a country that not only practices racial discrimination, but also operates a kind of “race elimination” policy. I never committed any crime against this country and was a normal Korean citizen before this. I am from a respectable family, and my lineage goes back to those who were involved in the founding of the South Korean government. I came seeking safety and refuge. But here, my rights have been violated and thrown away like a piece of trash. I feel that there would be no difference between being in an American detention center and being in a prisoner-of-war camp.

The Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse has launched a fundraiser to provide emergency funds for Yihwa Kim. This will help to ensure Yihwa’s safety and independence from her family in South Korea upon being forcibly removed from the US. Donate to her support fund here.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

TRANSLATED AND EDITED BY HYEJIN SHIM

Hyejin Shim is a bilingual domestic violence advocate with Asian Women’s Shelter in San Francisco. She is an organizer and cofounder of Survived and Punished, and is also a member of the Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse.

YIHWA KIM

Yihwa Kim is a domestic and sexual violence survivor from South Korea who unsuccessfully sought asylum in the United States.

 

Posted in USA, South KoreaComments Off on USA: “Being Detained Feels Like the Abuse I Tried to Escape”:

N.Korea: Trump ‘Begged for a Nuclear War’ During Visit to Korean Peninsula

NOVANEWS

Members of "No Trump Coalition" hurl salt at a banner showing images of the U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally against his visit in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP/Ahn Young-joon)

While Trump is greeted by protesters across the continent, North Korea says he has “laid bare his true nature as destroyer of world peace and stability”

Posted in USA, North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on N.Korea: Trump ‘Begged for a Nuclear War’ During Visit to Korean Peninsula

Retrospect on the Moon-Trump Summit, South Korean Anti-Trump Protests

NOVANEWS

U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in Seoul on November 7 and held a joint press conference following their summit. Trump’s statement was noticeably toned down in contrast to his past remarks on North Korea. It did not contain threats of “fire and fury” or military action against North Korea.

  • Trump and Moon agreed to resolve the “North Korean nuclear issue” in a “peaceful manner” and establish “permanent peace” on the Korean peninsula;
  • But they also reaffirmed their commitment to the strategy of “maximum pressure,” i.e. intensifying military pressure and sanctions against North Korea.
    • Trump reiterated complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) of North Korea as the U.S.’ goal (North Korea has repeatedly said it will not discuss denuclearization as long as the United States maintains its “hostile policy” against it).
  • Trump and Moon agreed to increase rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets on and around the Korean peninsula.
  • At South Korea’s request, they also finalized an agreement to lift the payload limit on South Korean ballistic missiles.
  • Trump’s primary mission in South Korea was as salesman in chief for the U.S. defense industry.
    • He praised U.S.’ military assets as the “greatest in the world” and announced, “[South Korea will] be ordering billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, and we’ve already approved some of those orders.”
    • A Blue House official met with reporters to clarify that military equipment deals are in the works but nothing has been “approved” or finalized as Trump suggested.
      • He did note that South Korea is interested in acquiring and/or developing high-tech strategic assets including nuclear submarines and military spy technology.

South Koreans Defy Police Barricades to Protest Trump

November 7 – Day of Trump’s arrival

Thousands of anti-Trump protesters gathered in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Plaza.

  • South Korean riot police erected a wall of police buses — a tactic begun and widely used by the conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations — to barricade the protesters.
  • The “No Trump Joint Action Task Force” — made up of over 220 civil society organizations — denounced the bus barricades: “Moon Jae-in, the self-proclaimed  ‘president of the candlelight revolution,’ ordered police bus barricades to quarantine the people who have gathered to protest Trump, who habitually spouts war threats and bullies other countries through forced weapons sales and trade pressure.”

Photo - Newsis

Photo - Kim Yeongran | Jajusibo

Thousands gathered in Gwanghwamun Plaza to protest Trump; Photo - Newsis

Later that night, protesters gathered outside the Hyatt Hotel, where Trump was staying.

  • As Trump was returning to his hotel after his welcome banquet with Moon Jae-in, protesters threw paper cups and glow-in-the-dark sticks on the road and forced Trump’s motorcade to turn around and take a different route to the Hyatt Hotel.

Protesters gathered near Hyatt Hotel, where Trump was staying; Photo - News1

November 8 – Trump’s speech at South Korea’s National Assembly

National Assembly representatives of the progressive Minjung Party staged a silent protest against Trump.

  • While other lawmakers greeted Trump with a standing ovation, Kim Jong-hoon and Yoon Jong-oh of the Minjung Party held up signs that read, “No war; we want peace.”
  • Representative Kim Jong-hoon explained their action in a statement following Trump’s speech to the National Assembly: “It is normal in a democratic country to have at least one or two of the three hundred National Assembly members stand for the citizens, who genuinely yearn for peace… We wanted to pass on the voice of the people in a peaceful manner.”

Photo Source: Voice of People

Thousands protested outside the National Assembly building on the morning of Trump’s address to South Korean lawmakers.

Thousands protesting outside of National Assembly building; Photo Source: Voice of People

All images in this article are from Zoom in Korea.

Posted in USA, South KoreaComments Off on Retrospect on the Moon-Trump Summit, South Korean Anti-Trump Protests

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