01 October 2009

Makes the heart bleed

I am willing to accept the fact that I am, in fact, a bleeding heart liberal. There are limits to this (including famous people who get away with heinous crimes and live in "exile" more comfortable than the majority of people's lives...), but a story like this about reunions between North and South Koreans really tugs at the heart strings.

In short, South Koreans going to reunions with siblings in the North are regretting having done so. These are people who haven't seen their siblings since prior to the Korean War, but what they saw and heard was so shocking that it has basically traumatized them. We read about the North Korean famine, but there are seldom visuals, which are so necessary in today's instant world. These South Koreans, many of whom are quite prosperous, are hurt to see their family members, the people they grew up with, literally starving.

It doesn't end there. The South Koreans bring gifts of food and money for their northern family members, only to have a large percentage of it taken by the DPRK, the very state responsible for the horrible condition of those family members. On top of that...they here nothing but praise for that state from their family members. We talk of North Korean brainwashing, but when a starving person praises the very people who have made them starve, it is truly mind-boggling.

And yet. And yet. Though my heart bleeds, and I want to cry for them, I know there is nothing to be done. There is nothing that the international community can do, which is a hard lesson for many to take. The US is often said to be guilty of making conflicts worse and ignoring the ones that could be helped, but, despite the rather horrific nature of the violence and human rights abuses inherent in the North Korean regime, it has wisely avoided attempts to change things there. Because the only outside change would be worse.

I know this is old news. I know that nothing I am writing has not been written a thousand times before. But there is little as galling as seeing something so monstrously evil and not have any way to deal with it. And even worse, the only ways to alleviate the pain at all involve making things easier for the horrendous regime that has caused it all.

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