강철환 (Kang, Cheol-Hwan), a 44-year-old former political prisoner turned North Korean Refugee, is now a South Korean legislative politician. He said, “지난 김대중-노무현 정부의 탈북자 문제에 대한 무관심과 외면이 중국 정부의 탈북자 강제북송을 고착화시켰다 (The previous Kim, Dae-Jung — Roh, Moo-Hyun administraitions apathy disregard towards the North Korean Refugee Issue, has made China fixated upon sending the refugees back to the North against their own will.)”
WTF? I understand and sympathize this man’s hatred towards the North, but don’t throw logic out the window. First of all, Kim, Dae-Jung and Roh, Moo-Hyun’s Sunshine Policy opened up North Korea more and more, and their contacts with South Korean dramas imported from China have helped bring a lot of outside information into the North, slowly penetrating it.
For the refugees, they set up a lot of institutions for the refugees to readjust with life in South Korea. More importantly, to avoid the North Koreans from having to readjust to these conditions, they actually attempted to improve the average North Korean’s life by economics, and it was working. If a North Korean worker in Kaesong was asked whether or not they’d want to defect to the South, or stay in Kaesong, I think they’d much rather stay in Kaesong. By opening up North Korea economically, there might have been more industrial complexes elsewhere, or if not that, maybe a major expansion of the industrial complex beyond Kaesong’s immediate boundaries. Then of course, any possibility of this was dashed once the conservatives came into office.
The argument that programs like Kaesong only fill the coffers of the rich have a point. But what’s the other alternative? Force North Korea into the brink, flooding the south with so many refugees to the point that even South Koreans can’t even find a job in these tough economic times? No South Korean president would allow that to happen, and would much rather have China send the refugee back to the North, because the international community wouldn’t have the same will or capacity to take in North Korean refugees either.