North Korean defectors and the left
There has been much consternation in the Korea-related blogosphere about the recent announcement by the South Korean government that it would stop welcoming large groups of defectors/refugees from North Korea and crackdown on the brokers that arrange for refugees to get from China to South Korea (see for example: NKZone Marmot). Seoul is also planning to cut by two thirds the amount of financial aid given to defectors for settlement once they arrive in the South.
I have to say that I also disagree with the new policy of the South Korean government and I don't think this is an issue that should be left to the rightwing, regime change lobby. This is an important issue for the left too. Unfortunately, as Chông Chin-hûi points out in the latest edition of Ta Hamkke some sections of the Korean left have welcomed the government's new policy, including sections of the Democratic Labour Party (apologies for rough translation - it's late):
This policy arises from the cynical calculation that the economic burden of the rising number of defectors needs to be reduced and that diplomatic friction with China and North Korea must be avoided... The Democratic Labour Party's decision to "welcome" this callous and hypocritical policy is regretable. The DLP's delight that this policy "positively reflects" the demands that it has been making for some time brings shame upon the name of a progressive party... If maintaining the stability of "north-south relations" means ignoring the basic rights of defectors, who is this stability for? What kind of socialism is a socialism that doesn't even recognise the freedom to migrate and seek asylum?
If the DLP wants to be a consistent progressive party it must have regard for the situation of the ordinary workers and people of North Korea rather than the problems of the North Korean ruling class.
We urgently need an internationalist perspective that welcomes North Korean defectors and opposes the government's attempt to put a curb on the numbers entering the country.