Tag Archives: Victor Cha

2015-02-17 Turn DC into a sea of fire, please (CSIS conference)

Item #1: It is snowing in Washington, DC, the city government is closed, the streets are covered with snow.
Item #2: The Center for Strategic and International Studies is holding a day-long conference: “North Korean Human Rights: The Road Ahead.”
Item #3: The North Korean government threatened to respond “very strongly” if the conference gets held. (Yes, it has started).

Conclusion: Yes, please, North Korean government, turn D.C. into a sea of fire. So cold, so much snow here…

I am now at the conference, bumping into many friends and colleagues. Even one of the Teach North Korean Refugee students is here. She looked so happy, it was wonderful to see her.

This kind of conference reminds me why I don’t have to worry about North Korea targeting me. There are so many more prominent people. But I guess I should worry when so many of North Korea’s enemies are gathered together like this….

More updates later, as long as the DPRK doesn’t “very strongly” bomb the building and destroy my Wi-fi connection…

IMG_0600
with Blaine Harden, author of Camp 14. Not only did he recall that I moderated a session with him and Shin Dong-hyuk in 2013, but he praised my organization Teach North Korean Refugees and said he follows our activities on Facebook.

Continue reading 2015-02-17 Turn DC into a sea of fire, please (CSIS conference)

Advice for Kim Jong-un? (Korea Times, January 28, 2015) by Casey Lartigue, Jr.

Advice for Kim Jong-un?

By Casey Lartigue, Jr.

I was recently asked by an expert on North Korea what I would tell dictator Kim Jong-un if I had a chance to meet him.

My response: “Nothing.”

As I explained to my baffled colleague: “Do you think I could convince KFC to stop killing chickens? The mafia to stop committing crime? Kim Jong-un is in charge of a country, treating 24 million people like they are his personal property. His wonderful life depends on controlling, terrorizing, brainwashing and extracting wealth from North Koreans.”

And vice versa. There is nothing the third dictator of North Korea could tell me that could get me to support his system. If I did start lecturing him about the right of locomotion or respect for individual autonomy, he’d probably interrupt me to ask: “Which country are you in charge of where you make your magic happen?”

Like my colleague, North Korea experts may want to give the North Korean dictator a piece of their minds. While the talkers debate, I would suggest that the mere mortals among us who would like to engage in practical action in our lifetimes check out the call to action paper “Light Through the Darkness” issued by the George W. Bush Institute.

Victor Cha, Fellow in Human Freedom at the institute and author of the paper, outlines six main areas for “improving the human condition in North Korea,” recommending specific actions. They include breaking through North Korea’s information barriers, engaging and supporting U.S.-based escapees and raising global awareness. The paper makes specific recommendations for individuals, organizations, governments and non-experts. The many bullet points could keep NGOs looking to engage in practical action busy for years or decades to come.

A beautiful thing about Cha’s paper is that it encourages people to focus on actions, not words of wisdom for the North Korean dictator. When I listen to the experts talk about North Korea, they seem to be having life-and-death discussions over which policy is correct. With so many options available, it would be like having a heated argument to resolve the “apples versus oranges” debate while at a buffet.

That’s why Cha’s paper goes against the grain when it comes to North Korean issues. The approach of the paper is to let a thousand flowers bloom rather than to debate about a particular policy in isolation. Analysts will engage in endless verbal fisticuffs, for example, over whether air balloons being sent into North Korea can topple the regime. As a stand-alone action, no, it can’t, anymore than humanitarian assistance, tourism, increased engagement, a peace treaty or sanctions can. That kind of snapshot analysis, isolating just one part when there are many moving, would be like concluding that tires are ineffective because, by themselves, they can’t make a car move.

As Cha writes: “Thus, it is not a question of choice ― a new approach to North Korean human rights must operate on all tracks simultaneously to have the most effect.” Some can focus on the 24 million people in North Korea, some can focus on helping North Korean refugees on the run in China and other countries, and others can focus on helping North Korean resettle and adjust. It isn’t hypocrisy to focus one’s limited time and resources on just one. There doesn’t have to be agreement, in advance, about which policy or approach is correct when there is so much to do, different people have different skills to get things done and we can’t know in advance which will work (or who has the ability to make the “golden key” or “silver bullet” happen).

It is often said that there is a “marketplace of ideas.”Arguments can be useful, stimulating and invigorating, but we don’t have to wait for experts to come to agreement before doing what we can. There needs to be a separate “marketplace of action.”Anyone who wants to engage in action, but is not sure where to start, can check out Cha’s paper.

The experts will continue to debate which policy is correct, I know. I’d like to remind them of something objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand said when asked by a student: “What should be done about the poor?” Rand responded curtly: “If you want to help them, you won’t be stopped.”

It sounds harsh, but it is a point that needs to be made to various researchers and activists debating about what to do about North Korea, that they won’t be stopped, except by government in some cases, from putting legs and arms to their ideas. If they look through the Bush Institute report and find something practical they can do, I promise that when Kim Jong-un asks me for advice, I will tell him not to stop them.

The writer is director for international relations at Freedom Factory Co.in Seoul and the Asia Outreach Fellow with the Atlas Network in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at: CJL@post.harvard.edu

Original Korea Times link,

Casey Lartigue quoted by NK News

Casey Lartigue quoted (accurately) by NK News about the Bush Center’s recent Call to Action report about North Korea. I must be somebody important, considering who is quoted in the article: Greg Scarlatoi, Suzanne Scholte, Victor Cha, Lindsay Lloyd and Casey Lartigue.

* There is a “however” before my comments, but I strongly agree with Suzanne Scholte’s point that the proposals in the report need to be financed, not just talked about…

However, Casey Lartigue of the Seoul-based Freedom Factory think tank said that the report “presents numerous practical options for individuals, NGOs and governments to do something in their own way to help.”

“There are so many analysts and talkers who are so busy attacking each other that they don’t focus enough on actual action to help North Korean exiles as well as those still trapped in North Korea,” he said. “After this, no one will have an excuse to say they didn’t know what to do to help.”

Recently North Korea seized upon the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture – which documented instances of harsh interrogation techniques taking place under the administration of George W. Bush, the center’s namesake – in an effort to counter attention generated by the COI report.

Given this, Lartigue, whose organization promotes individual liberty, addressed whether the Bush Center’s role in the report was ultimately beneficial to the cause of North Korean human rights.

“… some may question if the Bush Center is an appropriate outlet for such a report, but the report itself shows why such a question is ludicrous,” said Lartigue. “It isn’t going to take just one organization, policy, action or idea to help liberate North Koreans. Analysts and activists have their own visions and policies, and they can present their ideas and activities, and find others who would like to collaborate with them or put their ideas into action.

“We don’t need a vote about who is entitled to act or speak.”

 

 

http://www.nknews.org/2015/01/report-seeks-celebrity-support-for-n-korean-human-right/