I was doing some research for a class I am teaching (we are talking about 'Asian values' and 'universal human rights' right now) and came across something I would like to share:
In a major foreign policy speech delivered at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, ROK foreign minister Han Sung-joo said:
I am happy to report to you that human rights have finally come of age in Korea. I stand before you representing a nation and a people who can proudly say that truth, freedom, and democracy have at last triumphed in their country.... During our struggle, we found out that the fight for human rights is inherent to human nature. Human rights are something mankind is eventually bound to cherish and aspire to regardless of political or economic circumstances. Human rights are universal, indivisible, and interrelated. They cannot be altered according to circumstances. It is neither justifiable nor appropriate to deny some human rights in order to guarantee others.
My, how times have changed:
Of late, the South has stopped raising the North's abuses in international bodies. In 2003, South Korea withdrew from a UN Geneva process when it required a vote on North Korea's human rights record. In 2004, Seoul abstained from voting.
Reunification will happen one day (hint: in will not be gradual) and when it does there are going to be a lot of folks in the current government who are going to be deeply ashamed.