A Defector, Despised
Moon J. Pak, M.D.
July 6, 2003
Mr. Hwang, Jang Yop, a former top aid to the leader of North Korea, who defected to Seoul in 1997 had made a public appearance and issued a statement in July 4, 2003.
Nothing he said was new, nothing he said was unexpected and furthermore nothing he said was conducive to the reconciliation and peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. His presentation was filled with vitriolic and personal denunciation of the North Korean leadership; the oblique attack on the policy of detente, "Sunshine Policy" of the Republic of Korea, the country that accepted his defection and providing his safe haven; the air of a typical pseudo-academic, I know it all demeanor, regarding any issues pertaining to North Korea without offering anything specific and or reasonable in the form of a constructive recommendation. Actually these are typical content of a few books by him published in Japan with sensationalized titles through presumably lucrative deals.
Mr. Hwang, 78, was a secretary in the North Korea's ruling Worker's Party and a chief ideologue of its ruling political doctrine called Juche, or self-reliance. He served three times as legislature chairman, Supreme People's Assembly. He also headed Kim IL Sung University, an elite of elite academic institutions in North Korea, and most of all he had a direct and personal relationship with North Korea's leader Chairman Kim, Jong IL as his former tutor and mentor during the latter's formative years.
In other words, Mr. Hwang was not only an elite of the ruling class of the North Korea but also a chief architect of the very system that he so assiduously blame and attack as an evil and inhumane entity killing its own people. It makes us wonder, where is his own share of responsibility in this whole scheme of things in the establishment of "--a criminal ruling system committing murder and robbery and starving three million of its own people" (Italics, his own words). If his perception of the system that he helped to establish is so hideous, should as a men of any measure of integrity, stayed in that country rather then escaping from it, and taking advantage of his personal closeness to the maximum leader of the country, tried to persuade him to change?
As one of the many Korean-Americans dedicated to the concept of reconciliation, peaceful reunification, and renaissance of Korean people in the Korean peninsula, I have traveled to Pyongyang more than 15 times in the past 12 years. There is nothing in my life I would not have given, for even just a few hours of private time with Chairman Kim, during one of my visits, to present to him some of my ideas and recommendations germane to the future of the Korean peninsula. It is most obvious that Mr. Hwang, Jang Yop would have had plenty of such opportunities.
At the closure of the interview, a reporter threw in a question asking if he has a plan to visit the United States with an obvious reference to an invitation he had received last year to appear in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a largely conservative Republican dominated body, where his presentation would have pleased the hawks in Washington further damaging the détente in Korean peninsula. As he was leaving he gave a most despicable answer, he stated, with a smile, that he does not have any set plan for the visit now, but who knows the future, in the meantime he will just vie for time and enjoy his life. Can he really enjoy his life, when he is fully aware that the fates of the members of his family he left in North Korea; his old wife, ailing sons, grandchildren, not to mention his former students numbering nearly two hundred are most likely sealed in limbo to say the least?
Mr. Hwang should be made aware that there are many Koreans in both South, North and Overseas who are convinced that his place in history is yet to be determined, and that the judgment on him by the Korean people will come, and until that date, it will serve him well to stay in seclusion perhaps devoting his time praying for the repose of the members of his family.
Moon J. Pak, M.D.
US-DPRK Medical Science Exchange Committee
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