March 31, 2021
Dear Mr. President: In October of last year, I wrote an open letter to you published by Chosun Ilbo on October 21, 2020, appealing for urgent help to save the lives of North Korean women, men and children currently detained in China’s detention centers. I was appealing to you to do something that every previous South Korean president including Dae Jung Kim has done since the North Korean refugee crisis began: save Koreans from certain torture, certain imprisonment and possible death. I pointed out that it was a “golden opportunity” for you to do this because Kim Jong un’s fear of COVID had led the regime to close its border and refuse to accept North Koreans that China wants to forcefully repatriate back to face certain horror. It was a great opportunity for you to ask President Xi Jinping to show humanitarian compassion and allow them safe passage to the Republic of Korea, thus relieving the burden on China.
But you did nothing.
Then, that appeal was followed up by letter sent to you on November 2, 2020, signed by twenty former U.S. government officials representing every U.S. Presidency since Richard Nixon who wrote: We urge your administration to seize the moment to reach out to the People’s Republic of China, as South Korean administrations have quietly and very successfully done in the past, to ask for humanitarian consideration for the North Korean women, men, and children currently detained in the PRC and request they be allowed safe passage to the Republic of Korea or a third country.”
Believing you would do the right thing, that November 2, 2020, letter was not released publicly.
But you did nothing.
Now, I learned today that two young beautiful Korean women held in Chinese detention centers since September 2020, have been released — not to South Korean authorities, which they had requested, but to their abusers. The Chinese police gave them back into the hands of the Chinese men who had bought them, as they were victims of human trafficking. Thus, because of your inaction, they were released into the hands of those who had enslaved and abused them.
They just wanted to go to South Korea and no longer be slaves.
All you needed to do was to ask that these Korean women be released to South Korean authorities.
This happened because you did nothing.
You turned your back on these two women and hundreds of others, but will you continue to do this for those still being detained in China? Among the group still in detention are Christians and those trying to reunite with family in South Korea, two crimes punishable by death in North Korea. Thus, they face execution if Chinese authorities force them back to North Korea.
I understand that you are Catholic. If you will not consider these requests for help for these North Korean refugees currently detained, would you at least consider Proverbs 24:11-12– “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this, ‘does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?– which clearly calls on you to rescue those being led away to death and cautions you as well that if you knew and did nothing, you will be repaid for what they have done. As I wrote before, because your family was rescued (during the Korean War), you had the great opportunity to be able to choose your own path and thrive in the Republic of Korea to be elected to its most important political office, President. Now, you are the person with the most authority in the world to act to protect the lives of these refugees and make it possible for them to have the same opportunities.
There is still time. Please act. You know fully well that Hanawon has lots of room to accommodate these women, men, and children.
Suzanne ScholteContinue reading ““Mr. President, You Did Nothing””