Tuesday, March 15, 2005

No Government Assistance for Criminal Defectors?

Chosun reports that the South Korean government has a plan not to give financial and employment assistance to defectors from North Korea if they carry criminal records. Marmot derides this plan here, which is where I first read about this. According to the story, "North Koreans with inappropriate backgrounds including terrorists, drug dealers and those carrying criminal records involving rape and murder" will not be eligible for governmental assistance to start new lives in South Korea. The story further reports that "the government will dispatch investigators to China and other third countries that North Korean defectors make stopover before settling in South Korea and screen them in advance and examine their status."

I am interested in finding more about this plan, which I find very puzzling for a number of reasons. Do criminal records from the defectors' days in North Korea count? And how does the government plan to find such records? Given that South Korea has no reason to trust North Korea's legal system and its commitment to the rule of law values (unless the South Korean government knows something I don't) - e.g., both North Korea's substantive criminal law and procedural protections, the very idea of "criminal background" seems absurd to me when it is applied to defectors from North Korea. Perhaps the government is referring only to criminal activities undertaken by defectors in China or other countries? In that case, they may be serving time in those countries anyway (if not sent back to North Korea altogether), so I am not even sure how many people are supposed to be affected by this. Also, is the idea to bring them into South Korea but give them no financial assistance? Leaving them with no legitimate means of survival seems to me to be an excellent way to encourage criminal activities. Or is the idea to screen them out so they do not enter South Korea in the first place? Plus, if some of these people are indeed "terrorists," financial and employment assistance should be the least of South Korea's worries about them.

Many questions, and I would like to find out more. Chosun must be leaving a lot of stuff out because it just doesn't make a lot of sense.


Post a Comment

<< Home