It’s hard to comprehend the mindset of individuals who try to defend mass human rights abuses and the regimes that commit them.
That’s a broad statement, but it’s a reflection I had after hearing about the three North Korean diplomats who tried disrupting a U.N. conference on the massive human rights abuses occurring in the Stalinist state on Thursday.
For some of the visuals of the incident, see the above video.
The lead diplomat from North Korea (pictured below) interrupted the conference by delivering a 6-minute-long statement. He did so after testimony was given by one of the panelists, Joseph Kim (see video further below), who fled the communist state as an orphaned teenager, reports AFP/Reuters.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said that the North Korean diplomats were told that they would have a chance to address the conference at the appropriate moment, but they instead tried to intimidate the proceedings.
There were around 20 North Korean defectors who attended the U.S.-organized event, and many of them gave the interrupting diplomats a piece of their mind.
According to Fox News, the shouts included “Shut up!”, “Free North Korea!”, “Down with Kim Jong Un!”, and “Even animals know to wait their turn.”
Power instructed that the North Korean diplomat’s microphone be turned off, but allowed the diplomat to continue with his monologue against the conference because it was self-discrediting.
“Please shut the mike down because this is not an authorized presentation… Please ensure that the microphone is not live… We are calling U.N. security,” Power said.
When the next defector was about to give her speech, the North Korean diplomats stormed out of the conference. Many cheered them as they went, glad to see them go.
“The delegation chose instead to try to drown out the testimony of these panelists,” said Power.
“It must be chilling for those of you who have been subjected to the terror of the regime to be confronted with bullying and disruption, and the kind of behavior that we saw today,” she said.
Such statements are totally self-discrediting.
I’m wondering if the North Koreans behavior is actually part of their job description. Either way, their actions only gave the conference more moral weight.
Fleeing North Korea
As already mentioned, Joseph Kim was one of the speakers at the conference, and you can see below a Ted talk where he describes his life in North Korea and about the famines in the early 1990s when over a million North Koreans died. Among that number was his father.
His mother then went to China to look for work and Kim was left to look after himself, and he managed to survive, but lived a very, very hard life on the streets and working in the mines.
After escaping to China, Kim found life there was even harder in many ways than in North Korea. China actually sends back any North Korean asylum seekers to North Korea if they catch them. That’s what happened to his mother.
Eight years ago he was able to escape to the U.S. through the help of others. His video is both saddening and inspiring.
“Hope is personal. Hope is something. Hope is something that no one can give to you. You have to choose to believe in hope. You have to make it yourself,” he says, while also acknowledging that a lot of people helped him to get to America.
“This is my message to you. Have hope for yourself, but also help each other. Life can be hard for everyone, wherever you live.”