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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Thursday, May 09, 2002

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The NY Times has an account of North Koreans entering China and then seeking asylum at Western consulates. Apparently, there are estimated to be 300,000 North Koreans living illegally in China who have crossed the border in search of food and work. Up to now, the Chinese have turned a blind eye to this. Now, however, some of these people are getting into Western embassies in Beijing and other cities, claiming asylum and seeking safe passage to South Korea. The Chinese are now blocking approaches to the consulates and stepping up enforcement, but seem to be conflicted. Returning these people to North Korea annoys the West, but sending them to South Korea annoys North Korea and encourages more illegal immigration. I infer from this article that the Chinese would much rather not deal with this.

So why do you care? Because you remember back in 1989, when the collapse of the East German government was precipitated by the decision of the government of Hungary not to enforce strictly its border regulations. Illegal immigrants left East Germany, made it through Eastern Europe to Hungary, and thence to Austria and the West. Evidently, border controls within Eastern Europe were much less strict than at the East-West divides. For example, not a lot of folks were defecting from East Germany to Czechoslovakia or Hungary, so tourist visas were easily obtainable.

Obviously, a lot of other changes were happening in Eastern Europe and the time was right for upheaval, but still – George Bush and the South Koreans seem to think it is time for a change in North Korea.

So, who is aiding these immigrants in their flight to freedom? Are they stalwarts who defy the North Korean and Chinese police to aid the unjustly downtrodden? Or are we seeing another commercial people-smuggling opportunity for the snakeheads? Either way, Bush’s speech has already been written and delivered, and only needs updating:

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate; Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

Note: If you follw the last link, scroll to the bottom of the page. Otherwise, all proper conservatives will spray coffee through their noses, clutch their hearts, and die.

Update: Washington Post story here.

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