Iran-Corée du nord: La face cachée de la politique des bons sentiments (The hidden side of feel-good sunshine policy)

Les Aquariums de Pyongyang | Kang Chol-Hwan,Pierre Rigoulot | Robert LaffontLe jour où la Corée du nord s’effondrera, on découvrira un des univers concentrationnaires les plus impitoyables de l’histoire, avec des survivants dont les récits feront honte au monde libre. Et l’on s’interrogera alors sur les raisons pour lesquelles les informations n’ont pas conduit à rompre les relations diplomatiques et à demander des comptes à Pyong Yang. Thérèse Delpech

Au moment où le chantage iranien à la bombe semble sur le point de réussir, petit retour en arrière sur le précédent nord-coréen.

Corée du nord, qui, on le sait, est passée maitre dans l’art de manipuler la communauté internationale, notamment par ses incessants va et vient entre « déclarations contradictoires, brusques revirements, assouplissements avant les échéances importantes et nouvelles périodes de durcissement ». *

Mais aussi et littéralement cette fois dans la prolifération et la dissimulation, puisqu’on retrouve, un peu partout dans le monde et donc y compris en Iran, ses missiles et… ses experts !

D’où l’intérêt de cette tribune de l’année dernière dans le WSJ du défecteur et auteur d’une des plus puissantes dénonciations du goulag oublié de la Corée du nord (« Les Aquariums de Pyongyang », Kang Chol-Hwan avec l’historien et auteur du « Livre noir du communisme » Pierre Rigoulot).

Ainsi que de la face cachée de la politique des bons sentiments et en particulier du double jeu tant sud-coréen (la fameuse politique du « Rayon de soleil » de l’ancien président Kim Dae-jung, du fait de la crainte, certes justifiée, du submergement et des énormes coûts que provoquerait un effondrement trop rapide de leur frère du nord) tant qu’occidental (sans parler de celui de la Chine, sans l’aide de laquelle le régime ne tiendrait pas… une semaine!) qui ne font en fait et des plus perversement que perpétuer le système.

Moon over Pyong Yang
Give Us an ‘Eclipse Policy’
Kang Chol-Hwan
The Wall Street Journal
July 13, 2005

Condoleezza Rice arrived in Seoul yesterday to the news that South Korea had agreed to send its communist neighbor half a million tons of rice as « humanitarian aid. » Ms. Rice put the best face possible on the matter, saying the aid did not undercut U.S. policy toward Pyongyang. Perhaps. But it is important to understand that North Koreans are starving not because of a lack of aid from South Korea or the U.S., but because they are deprived of freedom. Giving aid only throws a line to the government, and prolongs starvation, surely a perverse outcome.

Just look at recent history. In 1998, we nearly witnessed the collapse of the Kim Jong Il regime as three million people died of hunger. Bodies lined the streets, malnutrition caused cutbacks in military exercises, and an energy shortage even affected residential areas reserved for central party officials. The North Korean people finally had some hope that the time had come for regime change, or at least for the start of Chinese-style economic reforms. Sensing also that his end was near, Kim in desperation began begging the international community for aid. Then out of the blue, South Korea’s government stepped in and saved him and his regime.

South Korean President Kim Dae Jung decided to give assistance to North Korea without demanding in return either an improvement in the human-rights situation or an increase in economic freedoms. Hundreds of millions of dollars were blindly handed over to Kim Jong Il to do with as he pleased. Much aid was diverted to the military and other power organs, reviving them and helping them to consolidate their power.

More than seven years have passed since South Korea began this policy of indiscriminate assistance. How successful has it been? To judge by progress in the country’s human-rights situation, or in its willingness to dismantle its nuclear-weapons program, throwing aid at this regime has been demonstrably counterproductive. The human-rights situation has worsened and food shortages remain unabated. As for disarmament talks, Pyongyang has boycotted the negotiating table for more than a year.

Supporters of Seoul’s « Sunshine Policy » claim that tensions on the peninsula have been eased and that the policy has contributed toward a settlement of peace. This is a bare-faced lie. As the South Korean government sings its peace songs, Kim Jong Il openly declares possession of nuclear weapons. In compliance with the government’s strategy, South Korea’s media has turned a blind eye to the truth in North Korea, painting a false picture of reconciliation and cooperation. As a result, the South Korean people are barely aware of the calamity taking place only 25 miles north of Seoul, nor of the atrocities taking place in North Korea’s gulag. For nine long years I was one of its 200,000 political prisoners. I can tell you that the true tragedy of North Korea is virtually unknown even in the South.

While North Korea’s people long to see the end of Kim Jong Il’s misrule, Seoul insists on holding a dialogue, and cooperating, only with our dictator. While we want to see an end to the menace represented by the People’s Army, all we hear from President Roh Moo Hyun and his people is, « Do not irritate Kim Jong Il . . . We need to accept the North Korean system . . . We do not want Kim Jong Il’s regime to collapse . . . Kim Jong Il is an intelligent leader. » These words fill the North Korean people with indescribable anger. On what basis could Seoul claim its right to go beyond the wishes of the North Korean people? It is up to the North Korean people to decide whether or not to accept Kim Jong Il as their leader.

Signs that North Korea is once again on the brink of a collapse abound, which probably is why Pyongyang has demanded the 500,000 tons of rice from Seoul. As in the 1990s, the food crisis is affecting the ruling elite, and there are reports that rations have been cut even in Pyongyang. The demise of Kim Jong Il may come unexpectedly fast. He is running out of time. If his regime is not kept alive with artificial aid, he will not have enough time to blackmail the world with a nuclear-weapons program.

This is why Ms. Rice should remain steadfast in resisting calls by Mr. Roh’s government in Seoul to give aid to North Korea. Kim Dae Jung’s Sunshine Policy, now being repeated by Mr. Roh, has failed most miserably. If it was a genuine mistake, Ms. Rice and the rest of the Bush administration should try to open eyes in Seoul. If Pyongyang has been manipulating policy behind the scenes, America must react by renewing its determination not to deal with Pyongyang.

George W. Bush, whom I met in the White House last month, knows all of this. His steadfast stance against Kim Jong Il and his love toward my fellow suffering North Koreans is about to give results. The darkest moment of the night is right before dawn. My feeling is that North Koreans will be able to see daylight soon. Now is not the time to give in to North Korea’s blackmail or to the general feeling of appeasement that pervades the Seoul government. Now is not the time to give aid, or to agree to bilateral negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.

Until things change in Seoul, Mr. Bush is the only hope the North Korean people have left. Those who are against him are only going to prolong their suffering.

Mr. Kang, the first person to escape from a North Korean concentration camp, is author of « The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag » (Basic Books, 2001).

Corrections & Amplifications:Kang Chol-Hwan did not escape from a North Korean gulag, as was stated in the author identification of this article; he and his family were released after 10 years of imprisonment, and he later escaped to China.


5 Responses to Iran-Corée du nord: La face cachée de la politique des bons sentiments (The hidden side of feel-good sunshine policy)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    WHAT IS BUREAU NO 39 ? (As China-supported North Korean butcher and starver of his own people puts on his yearly show for complicit Western media, who bothers to investigate the world’s largest state criminal organization ?)

    Located in a heavily guarded concrete building in downtown Pyongyang, Bureau No. 39 is the nerve center of North Korea’s state-run network of international crime. Its official name is Central Committee Bureau 39 of the Korean Workers’ Party. The authors refer to it by what Bechtol says is the more accurately nuanced translation of “Office No. 39.”

    The mission of Office No. 39 is to generate torrents of cash for North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il, by way of illicit activities abroad. Favorite rackets include international trafficking of drugs produced under state supervision in North Korea, and state production and laundering into world markets of counterfeit U.S. currency, and cigarettes. Such activities are tied directly to the survival of Kim’s regime. The authors report “the crimes organized by Office No. 39 are committed beyond the borders of North Korea by the regime itself, not solely for the personal enrichment of the leadership, but to prop up its armed forces and to fund its military programs.”

    What sets Office No. 39 apart from more pedestrian political corruption or organized crime is that this operation is not some wayward private gang or unauthorized appendage of government. It is an integral and institutionalized part of the North Korean regime. As such, it enjoys the perquisites and protective trappings of the modern nation-state, including the use of North Korean embassies and state-run businesses abroad, and the reluctance of other nations to intervene in the sovereign affairs of North Korea.

    Office No. 39 is directly tied to Kim himself, who set it up way back in 1974, when his father, Kim Il Sung, was still in power. The authors explain: “This office was established for the explicit purpose of running illegal activities to generate currency for the North Korean government.” Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, which ended subsidies from Moscow, Office No. 39 has become ever more important, and especially over the past 10 years, its activities have become more prolific.

    Office No. 39 continues to report directly to Kim, who took charge of the regime when his father died in 1994. According to a North Korean defector interviewed by the authors, Kim Kwang-Jin, who has firsthand knowledge of North Korean financial practices, Office No. 39 is also known to North Korean insiders as “the keeper of Kim’s cashbox.” Organized into 10 departments, specializing in various illicit activities, Office No. 39 serves as a slush fund through which billions of dollars have flowed over the years. In a bizarre personal touch, these funds are collected and presented periodically to Kim in aggregate amounts, labeled “revolutionary funds,” on such special occasions as his official birthday, Feb. 12, or the birthday of his late father, Kim Il Sung, April 15th.

    This money is not spent on easing the miseries of millions of repressed and famished North Koreans. That effort–from which Kim also has a record of appropriating resources to sustain his regime–is left to the likes of international donors, contributing via outfits such as the United Nations. The authors explain that the profits of Bureau 39 help swell the offshore bank accounts of Kim’s regime, used not only to pay for his luxurious lifestyle, but to buy the loyalties and materials that underpin his totalitarian, nuclear-entwined military state …

    Claudia Rosett


  2. jcdurbant dit :


    « As of 2018, 21 April, we suspend all nuclear and ICBM tests. To transparently carry this out, we will shut down the northern nuclear test site. »

    This is a freezing of tests, he is not giving up his weapons or promising to scrap warheads he may already own.

    More importantly, the bulletin began with a list of military progress under the dictator.

    « We have accomplished sub-critical nuclear tests, underground nuclear tests, miniaturisation of nuclear weapon, and the objective of developing large size nuclear weapons and its delivery system, » it said.

    This not only presents him as a successful and protective leader to his people, but it reminds the world that he is now the head of a nuclear-armed state and so comes to next week’s Inter-Korean summit in a position of strength.

    The decision to make the announcement now rather than waiting until the talks is also no coincidence.

    Most telling, though, is Mr Kim’s declaration that as a powerful state « the whole party and country » should concentrate on « socialist economic construction », in what he called the party’s « new strategic line ».

    For years, the impoverished North has pursued a « byungjin » policy of « simultaneous development » of both the military and the economy.

    By signalling the military period is now complete or extremely developed, he is again underlining his success to his people. The reality is that international sanctions are biting and the North Korean population cannot be fed with nukes.

    In order to ensure the continuation of his regime, he has to feed his people and improve the economy. This is no doubt a guiding factor behind his change of strategy.


  3. jcdurbant dit :


    « It’s just propaganda, the statements have ambiguous meanings. We can say the Punggye-ri site was of no use anymore, so I think North Korea can make use of that situation by declaring they will shut down past sites, but it doesn’t have any meaning. It can liven up the mood and make it favorable for the talks, but I don’t think it’s enough because it’s not technically a move towards denuclearization at all. »
    If North Korea was really serious, it would re-apply to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or accede to international norms under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. And there’s been no indication it wants to do that. If North Korea is so confident in its weapons capacity and wants to join the nuclear club, then it should abide by conventions adhered to by other nuclear states, Shin notes.
    « In order not to be deceived by North Korea again, concrete measures and gestures must be shown by Pyongyang. Talking of denuclearization gives a certain illusion, but there must be certain measures like returning to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]. I argue that returning to those organizations are the minimum standard for verifying their real intention or will of denuclearizing. If you look at the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the resolutions always ask North Korea to return to the IAEA and the NPT, so North Korea knows very well, it’s trying to avoid such situations, it wants to discuss denuclearization directly with the US rather than in the context of international norms. If North Korea can lift US sanctions first, then the UN sanctions aren’t as significant. »

    Chang-Hoon Shin (Korea Institute for Maritime Strategy!

    The announcement has done little more than solidify prospects the Trump-Kim summit will go ahead, said Catherine Dill, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. « I think that this certainly improves the odds for a Trump-Kim summit actually occurring, but it may complicate the longer term picture, » Dill told CNN.

    « A careful reading of the announcement shows that North Korea is walking a fine line in exactly what they are conceding at this point: an end to testing does not automatically result in the verifiable dismantlement of the nuclear and missile programs. Verification of testing alone would be quite complex, and the verification of dismantlement would take years of careful negotiation and implementation, » she said. « I think that while this particular concession by North Korea appeals to Trump’s vanity, it has improved dramatically the prospects for the summit, » she added.
    Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Wilson Center, agreed. « This is posturing, it’s still not committing North Korea to anything. They actually committed to no testing before — as recently as 2012 — and that lasted about a week. So it’s a good thing, but I’m not popping any champagne bottles at this point, » he told CNN.

    In 2012, the North Korean regime agreed to halt its nuclear testing in exchange for food aid from the United States, the so-called Leap Day agreement. But the deal fell apart after North Korea launched a rocket into orbit several months after the deal was signed. The North Koreans said the rocket was sending a satellite into orbit, but the US, South Korea and Japan claimed that was a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test.

    North Korea pulled out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in January 2003, declaring at the time that it pledged to limit its nuclear activities to « peaceful purposes. » It had announced in 1993 that it would withdraw from the treaty then, but suspended the decision to enter into talks with the US.
    By choosing to focus on direct talks with the US, Shin says North Korea is bypassing the scrutiny and verification process it would have to accept under UN auspices.

    The announcement follows diplomatic outreach including a visit by Kim to Beijing, his first foreign visit as leader, to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In a comment Saturday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang welcomed the latest developments. « Achieving denuclearization and sustainable peace in the region is in the interest of people on the peninsula and in the region, and meet the shared expectation of the international community, » said Kang.
    « We hope all relevant parties will move in the same direction and take concrete actions to work toward sustainable peace and common development in the region. China will continue to play a positive role to this end. »
    Meanwhile, President Trump responded positively to the news out of Pyongyang, tweeting about it twice on Friday night. The news that North Korea was suspending its tests and closing down a site, he said, was « very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit. »
    But at least one American ally in the region was circumspect.
    « The only thing that is important is whether or not it will lead to the completely verified and irreversible abolition of nuclear and missiles, » Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. « We would like to keep a close eye on it. »
    His defense minister was even more direct, calling the announcement « insufficient. »
    Speaking in Washington, DC, Itsunori Onodera told reporters that the move was « not satisfactory » for Japan « as the disposal of middle and short-range missile and of nuclear weapons was not mentioned. »
    He added that Japan will continue its policy of « maximum pressure » until « North Korea gives up WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] and nuclear missiles completely. »

    Japan’s fear is that, in a bid to get a win, Trump will be satisfied with a commitment from North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, but not give up its short and medium-range weapons that are able to target Japan.
    « So far, White House officials have been saying that the US is not going to give anything until North Korea completely denuclearizes, it’s setting a very hard line on negotiations, » said Denmark.
    « But as we’ve seen in the past the President doesn’t necessarily follow through on the advice of his people and so it’s impossible to know what’s going to happen when he gets in a room and sits down with Kim. Even if they come to an agreement, the president has demonstrated a penchant in his life of pulling out of agreements so sticking to an agreement is going to be very difficult, » he said.


  4. jcdurbant dit :


    Au Sud, tous les gouvernements de centre gauche ont cherché à tendre la main au Nord. Lors des premiers sommets de 2000 et 2007, les présidents sud-coréens étaient progressistes. De telles rencontres sont un préalable pour envisager une réunification. Mais ce scénario est envisagé dans une perspective de plusieurs décennies. Quand la droite revient aux affaires, elle constate que ces dialogues ne donnent rien et elle revient à une politique plus dure. Et cela ne donne rien non plus. On assiste donc à un va-et-vient (…) Je n’ai pas l’impression que la Corée du Nord soit prête à envisager une dénucléarisation vérifiable et irréversible comme l’exige Washington. Comment est-ce que cela pourrait être irréversible si la Corée du Nord possède les plans et le savoir-faire pour fabriquer une bombe? Pyongyang gèlera peut-être son programme, acceptera des contrôles de l’AIEA. Mais aucune puissance nucléaire n’a renoncé à son avantage. A mon avis, il faut plutôt miser sur un changement de régime. Et signer la paix serait un bon moyen d’évoluer en ce sens.

    Pierre Rigoulot

    On en oublierait presque qu’il dirige le dernier Etat totalitaire de la planète et que c’est le Nord qui a démarré un programme nucléaire et menacé durant des années de son feu le Sud et les Etats-Unis…

    De nombreuses voix s’élèvent cependant en Corée du Sud pour critiquer une annonce négligeable, étant donné que le Nord disposerait déjà d’un arsenal nucléaire. De plus, le site d’essais en question serait devenu inutilisable en raison d’un glissement de terrain, d’après des experts…


  5. jcdurbant dit :

    LIKE THE POPE ABANDONING JESUS (It’s official: North Korea is leaping into the future by half-an-hour)

    “We’ve heard this before … the North Korean propaganda playbook is an infinitely rich resource. What we want to see from them is evidence that it’s real and not just rhetoric.”

    US National Security advisor John Bolton

    “They are the ultimate realists in the traditions of Machiavelli and Hobbes,. They have this obsession or fetish of power. Every political outcome is determined by power and power asymmetries. For the North to abandon its nukes “is something so radically revolutionary that it’s analogous to the Pope abandoning Jesus Christ and adopting Buddhism. »

    Daniel Pinkston (Troy University, South Korea)

    Lest we forget that North Korea already signed a denuclearization agreement with South Korea in 1992. And with the U.S. in 1994. And with the Six Party Talks participants in 2005. And with the Obama administration in 2012.

    Every strata of North Korean society is infused with the necessity of nuclear weapons to safeguard the regime and complete the revolution in the South. The nation’s constitution was even amended in 2012 to describe it as a “nuclear-armed state.”

    On May 5, North Korea’s clocks will leap forward by half-an-hour…


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