I was in Seoul in 2002 when I wrote this. Sadly, what was true then is still true today.
Last week, the North Korean communists allowed 100 of its citizens who have family members in the South to go see and touch them for the first time in fifty years. They also allowed 100 South Koreans to go North to see their long lost family members.
Ever since the end of the Korean war, the North Korean communists have prevented those with relatives on either side of the border from seeing each other. They have prevented them from sending letters or post cards to each other. They have even prevented them from calling each other on the phone. So most people with relatives on one side or the other don’t even know if their family members are alive.
We are not talking about distant relatives here. We are talking about husbands and wives. Mothers and sons. Fathers and daughters. The very essence of family. For fifty years, the godless communists of the North kept these people apart. I feel so good knowing that God is just. Because God has a special place for people who so violate basic human decency.
While only 200 people were able to make the trips, more than 700,000 South Koreans applied. And although the lucky 200 were able to see those loved ones who were still alive, they had to go back to their respective countries after only two days.
This long-awaited reunion turned South Korea into a river of tears. Quite simply, every South Korean either has a relative trapped in the North or knows someone who does. I am not Korean, but I cried hot and bitter tears along with the people of Korea.
Those old men and women and their children may not have been my relatives, but they were my fellow humans. Think about the screams of joy and pain that would escape your chest if you had been denied the right to talk to and hold your mother for a half century. Even now, as I write these words, my eyes well up with tears about the outrage of a “government” preventing its people from the most basic and sacred of human rites: the closeness of family.
It is said that the communists didn’t want their people exposed to the South because it would make it harder to control them. It is said that the communists still harbored resentment from the centuries of “mistreatment” that the North believed it suffered when the country was unified. It is said that the communists just wanted to give their people a better life. I don’t care. Nothing justified keeping families apart. Nothing.
I believe that the North Korean communists hate their people. I believe that the North Korean communists got trapped in a cult of worship that doomed them to follow the failed policies for Stalinist communism. Sadly, the good people of North Korea have paid the ultimate price for the failures of the North Korean government.
Reports from human rights groups tell us that millions of North Koreans have been starved to death by their government. These reports say that a whole generation has been so malnourished that they will be forever stunted. We know that the same government that steals food from the mouths of babies feeds its military and high government leaders well. And uses part of its “food money” to build weapons to terrorize the world.
North Korea is one of the last countries to call itself a “Democratic People’s Republic.” My friends, I’ve learned the hard way that any country that puts these lofty sounding words in its name is neither democratic nor a republic. And the only thing they have for their people is disdain.
No, what we see in North Korea and Cuba is the ultimate in arrogance. Their revolution failed. It didn’t work. Their people are much worst off than those who embraced true freedom. But instead of admitting the truth, they have condemned their people to live their lie. And the price that we have all paid is just simply horrific.
All of Korea cried last week. But the tears won’t stop now that the families have been separated again. Think about the age of these people. Fifty years have passed. Thousands of these separated Koreans die each week without having ever touched their children, their parents or their spouses again. They die not knowing if they even are alive. And it is so unnecessary.
It is time for this crime against humanity to end. It is time for North Korea to open up its borders and let its people go. It is time for the lie to end and the healing to begin. Its time for the tears to be tears of joy.
Last modified: January 23, 2018