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"It's a Massive Exaggeration" Felix Abt argues for fairness towards the North Korean Regime Ba !

Mr" Abt# $N human rights ex%erts are a&&using North Korea's government this wee' of serious &rimes against humanit( in their newl( %ublished re%ort" It s%ea's of extermination# enslavement# and starvation of the %o%ulation" )ou lived for * (ears in North Korea" +hat do (ou sa( about these a&&usations, Abt! -here &an be no doubt that there are abuses of human rights" .owever# it's a massive exaggeration that the %o%ulation is s(stemati&all( exterminated# enslaved# and starved" /uring the worst &risis %eriod 00 following the &olla%se of %artner trading nations in East Euro%e# as well as massive floods and drought00 hundreds of thousands did in fa&t starve in the 1223s" -o blame that all on the regime is an unreliable overgenerali4ation" I dealt with North Koreans from all %arts of the &ountr(# and different levels in so&iet( 00 the( were %roud %eo%le# and would have been offended if (ou &alled them slaves" I've also met North Korean es&a%ees and as'ed them if the( left be&ause the( were abused and o%%ressed" -heir answer was# "No0 I 5ust wanted a better material standard of living in 6outh Korea#" whi&h is entirel( understandable" Ba ! -he re%ort also do&uments the denial of fundamental freedoms and names four large &am%s holding u% to 173#333 %oliti&al %risoners" Abt! I too have seen the satellite %hotos that show there are %rison &am%s8 human rights a&tivists estimate there are u% to 733#333 %risoners" In a %o%ulation of 79 million# that's less than one %er&ent" In the $6A# the main %ower driving the in:uir(# more %eo%le are in %rison! with five %er&ent of the world's %o%ulation# the( have 7; %er&ent of the world's in&ar&erated %o%ulation" -he $N re%ort a&&uses North Korea of ra%ing %risoners" In $"6" %risons ra%e is &onsidered "%rison 5usti&e#" and membershi% in gangs along with learning &riminal s'ills are ne&essar( elements of Ameri&an %risoners' survival strateg(" <bviousl( an( %oliti&al %risoner is one too man( 00 but the debate over human rights is &ondu&ted in a ver( sele&tive and %oliti&al wa(" North Korea is held u% for shaming almost ex&lusivel(8 human rights offenses elsewhere are gladl( overloo'ed" Ba ! +here did the $N re%ort get its information, It's based mainl( on the testimonies of North Korean es&a%ees# in&luding former %rison &am% inmates" I don't doubt that man( of them have been through some terrible things" 6till# %eo%le who have wor'ed with North Korean refugees tell me that the testimonies of most refugees begins with less dramati& things li'e food shortages get rewor'ed after a while into horror stories about 'illings and beatings to death" Es&a%ees who arrive in 6outh Korea are wor'ed over and "fli%%ed" b( intelligen&e servi&es# after whi&h the( are %e%%ered with :uestions b( human rights a&tivists# s&holars# %oliti&ians# and 5ournalists about their terrible lives in North Korea" -he( &ome to learn what answers are ex%e&ted" Ba ! .ow would (ou des&ribe the human rights situation in North Korea, Abt! -he overwhelming ma5orit( of the %eo%le live a normal live under the &ir&umstan&es# do not &ome into &onfli&t with the law or %oliti&s# and are barel( affe&ted b( human rights %roblems" Ex%erts who have observed the human rights situation over a longer %eriod of time have determined that the situation has been getting better over the (ears" -hat %arallels the food situation b( the wa(8 malnutrition is around five %er&ent in North Korea# &om%ared to the Asian average of 1* %er&ent" Ba ! )our %ositions &ontinue to draw &riti&ism" /oes that matter to (ou, I am neither a defender of the North Korean regime nor an o%%onent of the $nited 6tates# but I believe

the law of fairness a%%lies to ever(bod(# whether friend or foe" If %eo%le badmouth me for that# I &an live with it" 6wiss entre%reneur Felix Abt lived and wor'ed from 7337 to 7332 in North Korea" .e re&ounts his ex%erien&es in the boo' "A =a%italist in North Korea""