South Korean concerns for the North's human rights

The March 29 article entitled "South Korea bars secret video of the North" misleads readers concerning the efforts of South Korea and its people with regard to the human rights situation in North Korea.

We believe that the improvement of human rights of the North Koreans can be best achieved through reform and liberalization within North Korea. South Korea has continued to offer North Korea support for economic reform and has provided humanitarian aid such as food, fertilizer, and medical supplies.

Because the people of North Korea find their very survival threatened today, such efforts should be regarded more relevant than just voicing concerns. Also, the government of South Korea offers asylum to all North Korean refugees who wish to settle in South Korea, and strives to keep other nations from forcibly deporting refugees to North Korea.

There is absolutely no truth to the claim your reporter made that authorities have prohibited the broadcast of a video depicting scenes of public executions in North Korea.

South Korea today is a mature democratic nation in which it is inconceivable that the government would demand that the contents of a media broadcast be altered. In fact, the tape of the executions was broadcast on all the three major South Korean networks - KBS, MBC, and SBS - during the week of March 16. The major newspapers also covered the story.

The government of the Republic of Korea has long recognized human rights as a universal value for mankind and devoted its efforts to advancing the cause of human rights with the international community.
Soo-Dong O, Minister for Public Affairs
Embassy of the Republic of Korea

Editor's note: The article mentioned above incorrectly stated that "South Korean TV authorities have not let the video be broadcast." The video was aired by South Korean TV stations on March 16, 17, and 20 - each time for a duration of approximately one minute. Japanese TV coverage of the video, which aired on the same days, lasted more than three hours in total.

Judicial respect must be earned

Pat Holt's assertion that "An independent judiciary is a bedrock requirement for democracy, as is respect for the judiciary" ("Filibuster: a key check-and-balance tool," April 7 column) is an endorsement of judicial review, which puts democracy at the mercy of unelected, life-term oligarchs whose power of review is nowhere in our Constitution. In a democracy, respect is earned; it is not titular.

Neither judges nor any other people in public life should be above criticism. There are more than enough skeletons in judicial closets to warrant some reserve about the "respect" to which they are entitled.
Lawrence Cranberg
Austin, Texas

Missile defense not air-tight

The April 4 editorial "Stay Alert to Cruise Missiles" has great relevance to our National Missile Defense program. Assume the NMD systems are able to destroy all attacking ballistic missiles. Then North Korea removes their nuclear warheads and packages them into cruise missiles.

Launched from rusty old ships off our coasts, cruise missiles could destroy major cities beyond the range of their intercontinental ballistic missiles. With ICBMs, we'll know the exact launch point, but who owns those ships?

So, is the proposed NMD worth its cost? A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.
Stanley Logue
San Diego

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