Tikhonov on NK defectors
Vladimir Tikhonov (aka Pak Noja / 박노자) of Oslo University has pointed out to me an interesting aspect of the current changes in South Korean governmnent policy on North Korean defectors that hadn't occurred to me:
On the issue of North Korean defectors - I am afraid that recent statement by Roh's minister is unconstitutional in terms of S.Korea's own legal system, as, so far, the Constitution regards all residents of Republic of Korea's "legal territory" (Korean Pen. and the adjacent islands) as (South) Korean citizens, without giving North Korea the benefit of legal recognition. So, in principle, the N.Korean defectors may take the S.Korean government to court for preventing them, as born (South) Korean citizens, from travelling to their motherland. The problem is that for the N.Koreans, the idea of legally challenging a state they are either living in or planning to go to, may seem somewhat outlandish. But I hope they will soon learn about this legal mechanism.He adds:
there are recently some moves in S.Korea in the direction of changing the constitution in the direction of recognizing N.Korea's statehood and modifying the description of what constitutes (South) Korean territory appropriately. But once made, these changes might produce not only good (closer ties to North Korea), but also lots of bad consequences - for one, if N.K. regime were to fall and China was to move its troops into Pyongyang to prevent the Americans from doing so, S.Korea would be at a loss for legal arguments against it. Then, such constitutional changes will effectively stem the growth of the N.K. refugee community inside S.Korea - which is, after all, a seed of unification in itself, despite all the discrimination and adjustment difficulties.On a related matter, Oranckay has an interesting post from yesterday about the decision by the South Korean government to change the term used to used to denote defectors from t'albukcha (탈북자) to the seemingly more positive-sounding saet'ômin (새터민).