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Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Axis of Evil update
Either it's just getting more press coverage than it used to, or it's actually happening more frequently: North Koreans are seeking asylum in South Korea, by way of various western embassies in Beijing. Now, nine more North Koreans managed to evade the Chinese police and reach the South Korean embassy.
Because of economic policies and bad weather, North Korea has suffered a famine since 1995, during which as many as 2 million people, or 10 percent of its population, have died from hunger-related problems, according to Western aid organization estimates. Western countries, including North Korea's biggest donor, the United States, have provided thousands of tons of food. But much of the aid, distributed by the World Food Program, UNICEF and other agencies, is believed to go to members of the ruling Workers Party, soldiers, and workers and families deemed useful to the government.

Several Western aid agencies, including Doctors Without Borders and Medecins du Monde, have pulled out of North Korea because they said the North Korean government did not allow them to serve North Korea's most vulnerable citizens.


The North Korean government punishes illegal emigration harshly, sometimes with execution or incarceration in brutal labor camps. Refugees have described harsh conditions, beatings, starvation and hopelessness in the camps.
It's a shame that human rights groups waste time with phony issues like the Jenin "massacre" or the treatment of Al Qaeada prisoners at Guantanamo, or a potential death sentence for Zacarias Moussaoui, when they could deal with a real tragedy. The thing is, it's difficult for them to monitor North Korea,and they have no influence over the North Korean government -- and no influence means no victories, which means that donors might question their effectiveness. So they focus on easy, Western targets.

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