Defector lawmaker urges Seoul to stand firm with North Korea

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A North Korean elite-turned-South Korean lawmaker, Rep. Cho Myung-chul of the ruling Saenuri Party, has insisted Seoul must be firm and patient in dealing with Pyongyang, asserting that Seoul must avoid talking for the sake of talking, or giving unilateral concessions.

“The North refuses to apologize for the 2010 Cheonan sinking and the 2010 Yeonpyeongdo Island shelling,” Cho told the Korea Herald, touching on the March 2010 sinking of the South Korean naval ship Cheonan and the North’s November 2010 shelling of a South Korean island. “If we forgive them again and just forget about it, nothing will come of it. How can we just forgive them, when they kill our young men left and right, whenever they want?” the first-term lawmaker said.

Cho also urged Seoul’s National Assembly to pass a human rights bill aiming to improve the situation in the North as soon as possible. The bill has been stalled in the Assembly since 2005. “The North is a country where freedom is absolutely absent,” the lawmaker said. “I know this because I’ve been there, and lived there.”

Cho, 56, is a former professor of economics at Kim Il Sung University, the North’s top school. Cho defected to the South in 1994 while serving as an exchange professor in China, leaving his parents, his brothers, a wife and children in the North. Cho said his frustration with the North’s repressive government led him to come to the South. “I felt that if I, a person from one of the most prestigious families in the North, defected, I would be able to shock the government’s leadership. My defection was a form of protest.”

[The Korea Herald]

This entry was posted in , , by Grant Montgomery.

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