Kang Chol Hwan on the plight of North Koreans

Kang Chol Hwan is a former North Korean prisoner and author of The Aquariums of Pyongyang.

The plight of North Koreans today, Kang says, is “very similar to that of Jews during World War II. Hitler and Kim Jong Il are very similar,” he says. “The methods of killing are different, but everything else is the same. When I see photos of the Jewish genocide, my heart just breaks.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and member of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, suggest a more accurate parallel would perhaps be Joseph Stalin — “he built the gulag.”

“Stalin, ultimately the worst dictator probably of the 20th century, said that one death is a tragedy and that a million deaths is a statistic.

“Take the power of one girl, Anne Frank, whose name, for so many millions around the world, is more than just a statistic from the Nazi Holocaust. I’m not making a direct comparison between Anne Frank and Mr. Kang, but I am saying that having someone as a symbol is enormously important.”

[From “A View From Inside” by Grace E. Jang, published in KoreAm Journal]

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