Readers Write: How US must deal with North Korea; Sex trafficking close to home

Letters to the Editor for the June 3, 2013 weekly print magazine:

The Obama administration should use soft power with North Korea, but Kim Jong-un is also unfortunately underestimated by the US and South Korea.

Many Americans might be surprised to know that sex trafficking is a problem in their country. This is a grim reality, but it does not have to be our future.

How US must deal with North Korea

I have been in the US government and national security field for more than 20 years, and I agree with J. Michael Cole's premise in the Commentary spread "2 bold ideas to end North Korea's cycle of threats" in the April 22 & 29 issue. The Obama administration needs to use soft diplomatic power. However, I do not believe that the Obama administration truly understands what the Kim Jong-un regime is or what Mr. Kim's aspirations are.

As his father's successor, Kim needs to coordinate and consolidate his power. He is fully aware of Pyongyang's political fragility, held together only by the weight of the military. He must balance the interests of the military with domestic frustrations over neglect of the people as a result of Pyongyang's disastrous military-first policy.

It appears that Kim is pursuing this equilibrium by appeasing the military's intent to join the "nuclear club" while also garnering support from his domestic base by unifying the country against an exterior influence or foe.

I believe Kim is intelligent and unfortunately underestimated by the United States and South Korea. He has accomplished what his father failed to do – ultimately bringing his country to the table for bilateral talks with the US and potentially earning North Korea status as a "nuclear club" member.

Anthony Demestihas

Arlington, Va.

Sex trafficking hits close to home

The May 6 OneWeek section included a good piece ("A region's dubious rise") on "American sex predators turning Central America into a near-shore tropical hideout" and law enforcement's efforts to catch them. But little was said about what is being done to help the victims. Sex tourism often leads to cases of sex trafficking.

Does the average American know that this happens right in our own country? For instance, the Super Bowl attracts so many sex traffickers and sex tourists that it is commonly known as the largest human trafficking event in the United States. An estimated 100,000 children in the US are victims of sex trafficking. This is a grim reality, but it does not have to be our future.

Claire Amsden

Los Altos, Calif.

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