Skip to main content

Open door to N. Koreans (Korea Times, January 16, 2013) by Casey Lartigue, Jr.

Open door to N. Koreans

By Casey Lartigue, Jr.

Last Dec. 12, I fired off an opinion piece of about 1,500 words to the Washington Post. It easily could have been 1,600 words, but I deleted all of the curse words. The day before, I had learned that the United States government had rejected visa applications by three of the students at the Mulmangcho School for North Korean refugee adolescents.

Mulmangcho (meaning, ``forget-me-not”) is a small alternative school located in Yeoju, more than an hour south of Seoul. It opened last September with 11 former North Korean children who are orphans or are disadvantaged in some other way. It was founded by former national assembly member Park Sun-young and a distinguished board of directors.

Why were the youngsters rejected? The explanation I got: 1) The U.S. government is concerned that they might not return to South Korea and 2) there was a question about their refugee status because they didn’t have proper paperwork proving they were from North Korea.

North Korean youngsters first live under the boot of the Kim crime family in the North, punished or executed for daring to escape. Those who escape to or are born in China live as stateless people who cannot legally attend school, work, or visit a hospital. Those who make it here struggle to adapt to South Korean society. For some, the U.S. could represent a clean start.

U.S. policy may be catching up to the problem of North Korea’s stateless children. A bill, ``North Korean Child Welfare Act of 2012,” on protecting ``stateless children” from North Korea is expected to be signed by U.S. President Barack Obama. Many of these children are orphans or stateless because they were orphaned or abandoned in other countries, mainly China (including to mothers who were kidnapped or sold to Chinese men).

The law calls for the secretary of state to facilitate ``immediate protection for those living outside North Korea through family reunification or, if appropriate and eligible in individual cases, domestic or international adoption.”

That’s certainly a good start. But the U.S. government needs to have a laissez-faire policy when it comes to North Korean refugees. Waive the rules that split hairs over terms like ``defector,” ``refugee” or ``asylum seeker.” Let them in.

That was the policy of the U.S. government, welcoming the world’s ``huddled masses,” until 1924 with the exception of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. It is literally life and death for some to escape, as it has been before, and the U.S. government has failed before, too. At a press conference in 1938, U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt was asked, ``Would you recommend a relaxation of our immigration restrictions so that the Jewish refugees could be received in this country?” In a response that should live in infamy, Roosevelt answered, ``This is not in contemplation. We have the quota system.”

The U.S. has a ``system” today, too, as the youngsters at Mulmangcho have learned. America’s immigration bureaucracy has demands for proper “papers, please,” but it is often difficult for North Korean adolescent refugees to produce such documents. The North Korean government didn’t process any paperwork or stamp their passports on the way out.

North Korea won’t let North Koreans go. China won’t let them pass through. The United States government should make it easier for them to find freedom at last.

The writer is the international adviser to the Mulmangcho School for North Korean Adolescent Refugees in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, and a member of the board of trustees of the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at cjl@post.harvard.edu.

Original Korea Times link

Previous commentaries and activities concerning North Korea

North Korean refugees in South Korea, TBS eFM 1010.3, January 1, 2013 (radio interview).
Why I won't go to North Korea, The Korea Times, December 27, 2012 (op-ed). 
GSIS Christmas Drive, December 7-21, 2012.  
To be a good volunteer, use your brain, The Korea Times, December 5, 2012 (op-ed).
Asia Pacific International School fundraiser, November 21, 2012 (speaker, organizer) 
IVC charity fundraiser, Yonsei University, November 20, 2012 (speaker, organizer) 
"Balloon launch to North Korea," Sept. 15, 2012.
"Hyeon-seo Lee on Ted.com" August 28, 2012 (co-chair).
"Reasons for Hope in South (and North) Korea," Atlas Experience, Colorado, USA, April 25, 2012, speaker.
Nothing to Envy? Roundtable with North Korean refugee, April 5, 2012 (moderator) 
"Common Sense" on North Korea, Korea Times, April 2, 2012 (op-ed)
Helping North Koreans 'strike the blow', Korea Times, March 22, 2012 (op-ed)
“Freedmen” from North Korea, Korea Times, March 4, 2012 (op-ed)
The Death of Juche? Roundtable discussion about the development of markets in North Korea, Roundtable, September 28, 2011.
Surprise! North Koreans Love Me The Korea Times, July 2010 
I Believe North Korea! The Korea Times, May 2010

Popular posts from this blog

Forgery or conspiracy? Memorandum 46

Here's an article I co-wrote that will appear in the Sunday Outlook section of the Washington Post . We'll be updating this page over the coming days. So check back for updates. Memorandum 46 timeline , as compiled by us. Audio from our last show on XM 169 before we got fired. That audio is divided into segments, this one is one large MP3 . Who says Memorandum46 is true? Former rep. Cynthia McKinney presents Memo 46 to the United Nations and defends it in a speech . Joe Madison presents Memo 46 at the annual Congressional Black Caucus gathering. Former D.C. delegate Walter Fauntroy, on the Joe Madison show on XM 169 (audio available, upon request) and on Michael Fauntroy's site Boyd Graves (see Exhibit 10 of his lawsuit against the government) The Final Call, with Brzezinski's name misspelled . Len Horowitz Blackelectorate.com Millions for Reparations Various discussion forums or discussants, such as: Greekchat , Jahness , Who says Memorandum 46 is a forgery? Brzezi

The Casey Lartigue Show

Guests scheduled for May NOTE: Check here for updates on Memorandum 46! Future Shows Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution This is my first attempt at putting together my own promo , it was rejected because of the sound quality May 19 edition of the Casey Lartigue Show We had a great show yesterday, probably the best so far. The topic: Malcolm X. The occasion? Anniversary of his 82nd birthday. Eliot Morgan and I had a great time talking with the callers. Deneen Borelli called in on our special guest line. You can download the file here. We posed the question: What did Malcolm X do? We contrasted the viewpoint and legacies of Malcolm X and Thurgood Marshall. The one mistake I made was not to focus on the question that Marshall asked: What was the one concrete thing that Malcolm X did. In segment 3, callers begin to get personal with us. May 12 edition of the Casey Lartigue Show Featured guest: Don Boudreaux of George Mason University Promo for the May 12 show May 5 edition of the C

Park Jin welcoming remarks to FSI (and Casey Lartigue)

  National Assembly member Park Jin makes the welcoming remarks at FSI's conference featuring North Korean diplomats. Park Jin | Greeting message to FSI and Casey Lartigue mention - YouTube

2016-11-03 Who is Andrei Lankov?

Disclaimer: NK experts, please don't read this, there will be no rabbits pulled out of a hat. * * * Every couple of months, I meet up with Andrei Lankov to discuss various things. I first met him back in 2011, shortly before he spoke at an event I organized with the Center for Free Enterprise. I have read his articles for years, he has spoken at about four TNKR events over the years. When it comes to analyzing NK, he is one of the leading experts in the field. Last March, I was one of the organizers of the first (and perhaps last) International Volunteers Workshop, we had 227 RSVP in advance. I asked them all as part of the RSVP: "The keynote speaker will be Andrei Lankov. Had you heard of him before hearing about this event?" No: 133 Yes: 94 Even within those 94 "Yes" responses, I am sure there were various levels of awareness--such as some may have seen his name, others may have read some articles, and a few experts may have the Andrei La

Songmi’s first book signing (2022-09-27)

Songmi Han escaped from North Korea in March 2011 and was released into freedom in South Korea in October 2011. For the first decade, she was silent. She was struggling with settling down and was also a survival of several different traumas. After she went through counseling and joined Freedom Speakers International as a Special Assistant in early 2021, she finally began to open up. I suggested that she might want to write a book. that her healing process might also be able to help others. After some discussions, she decided to try, although she recruited me as her co-author (that was NOT part of my suggestion). As we worked on the book, I told her that the would come that she would have a book signing. She didn’t believe it. Eighteen months later, she had her first in-person book signing. I organized a trip to the USA, with the first event being held on her birthday. Below are many of the photos I took of her as she signed books with attendees in Nashville. Finally, after signing many