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North Korean Defector Criticizes Aid to Pyongyang - 2002-05-17

A high-ranking North Korean defector is in Washington to push for an end to international aid to North Korea. Yun Seong Su says such aid will only make it more difficult to topple a government he says has created "hell on earth."

Yun Seong Su served 15 years as an intelligence officer in North Korea's National Security Defense, working along the Chinese-North Korean border.

He defected in 1998.

Mr. Yun told reporters international aid to North Korea is not reaching the country's starving population, but rather bolstering the country's military.

"The countries and governments who support North Korea while ignoring the human rights situation of North Korea are the very reason North Korea's government still has its power and is growing," he said. "Such international aid will only encourage the suppression of the North Korean people and support and extend the life of the Kim Jong-Il regime."

Mr. Yun believes the world community should instead help North Koreans leave their country in droves. He sees this as the best way to put an end to the Stalinist government.

"The refugees and defectors from North Korea have to be granted the international refugee status so that their status can be somewhat granted, guaranteed and stabilized," he said. "He also suggested the international society should facilitate those refugees and defectors from North Korea with some sort of facilities and settlements near the North Korean border somewhere in a third country. Those facilities and settlements would encourage more North Koreans to abandon North Korea and eventually accelerate the collapse of North Korea's current dictatorship regime."

Mr. Yun painted a grim picture of North Korea today.

He spoke of frequent public executions and camps holding about 200,000 political prisoners. He also alleges the government is forcing cooperative farms to cultivate opium.

Mr. Yun laments the fact defectors have too little influence on shaping policy toward the North in South Korea.

The South Korean government is advocating a so-called sunshine policy of closer ties.

Mr. Yun is making several stops at lobby groups in Washington, but says he fears for the lives of his relatives, some of whom he says are being held in prison camps.