|THE NORTH KOREAN |
August 26, 1997
in this forum:
How widespread is the famine? What causes the indifference in South Korea? How likely is another war? Shouldn't we defer to South Korea on questions of aid? How do I help? Wouldn't a free market economy end the famine? How accurate are food estimates in North Korea? How much has China helped its ally? What is being done to prevent future famines? Additional Comments...
August 5, 1997:
The NewsHour reports on new talks between North and South Korea brought about by widespread famine in the North.
June 11, 1997:
Margaret Warner discusses the state of North Korea with World Vision Vice President Andrew Natsios.
April 8, 1997:
Two Senators report on the state of the food crisis in North Korea after returning from the region.
February 11, 1997:
The former U.S. ambassador to South Korea discusses the recent labor unrest there and the famine in North Korea.
December 31, 1996
Charles Krause leads a discussion with two experts on recent tensions between North and South Korea.
November 29, 1996
Rep. Bill Richardson (D-NM) brought home an American man who was being held in North Korea.
May 21, 1996
Facing the real possibility of famine, North Korea's government has allowed United Nations relief officials into what are normally closed borders.
A question from Peter Schuck of Encino, CA:
Given the outrageousness of the rogue regime in Pyongyang, it is almost beyond belief that we are doing anything at all to help them out of the utter mess that they have gotten themselves into. Notwithstanding, we have a tradition of humanitarian aid which often has bought us friends in the long run. However, due to the sensitive nature of the politico-military situation in Korea, is it not wisest that we defer to Seoul's lead on this issue?
Andrew Natsios of World Vision responds:
Famines are terrible events. I ran a half a dozen famine responses around the world during the Bush Administration and I don't believe any policy makers in this city or in South Korea would be urging the U.S. step back from a leadership position on this crisis if they had witnessed the horrors of a famine and understood the profound instability they unleash.
The people of North Korea did not choose their government. Famine aid is not for the government but for the people of North Korea.
The government of South Korea, a long-time ally of the United States, until this past month consistently and openly opposed any significant food aid to their adversaries in the North which has made the U.S. response belated. That has now changed dramatically as hard liners in the South Korean government realize the famine is real and the devastation is massive.
What is most revealing to note is that 70% of the South Korean people favor sending food assistance to the North and are now making individual donations through their churches and indigenous aid organizations and the Red Cross. Many Korean-Americans here in the U.S. have mobilized to advocate on behalf the hungry in North Korea. Approximately 100,000 people in the United States are "divided" families and 10 million people in both Koreas are separated from relatives.
Ted Yamamori of Food for the Hungry responds:
The United States does have a strong humanitarian tradition. As Ronald Reagan once said,"A hungry child knows no politics." Having personally seen these children with their stick-like arms and legs, lethargic expressions, sagging skin, and discolored hair, it is almost inhuman to do nothing to help them. In the nurseries and kindergartens I visited the children receive maybe two pieces of bread and some soup which is actually sweetened warm water with little or no nutritional value. This is what they receive when food is available.
Some intelligence experts in the United States have stated that doing nothing to help North Korea could have dire consequences. We know that desperate people do desperate things. If the North Koreans were pushed into the corner as more and more of their country was wiped out by famine, the military might feel that they have nothing to lose in making a strike on Seoul. I think it's in everyone's best interest to help North Korea with a humanitarian spirit.