Monstrous, one in a series

July 31, 2009

One of the darkest aspects of Stalinist Russia was its willingness to punish not only those who had offended it, but their friends and families, too. Otherwise brave men and women were coerced into obedience and false confession for fear that their children or grandchildren would suffer Stalin’s anger.

Well, Stalin lives on in the form of the wretched little man who rules North Korea and the loathsome toadies who serve him. Not only can one be sent to the gulag for the most capricious reasons, but they’ll get your family, too:

Kim Young Soon, once a dancer in Pyongyang, said she spent eight years in Camp 15 during the 1970s. Under the guilt-by-association rule, she said, her four children and her parents were also sentenced to hard labor there.

At the camp, she said, her parents starved to death and her eldest son drowned. Around the time of her arrest, her husband was shot for trying to flee the country, as was her youngest son after his release from the camp.

It was not until 1989, more than a decade after her release, that she found out why she had been imprisoned. A security official told her then that she was punished because she had been a friend of Kim Jong Il’s first wife and that she would “never be forgiven again” if the state suspected that she had gossiped about the Dear Leader.

She escaped to China in 2000 and now lives in Seoul. At 73, she said she is furious that the outside world doesn’t take more interest in the camps. “I had a friend who loved Kim Jong Il, and for that the government killed my family,” she said. “How can it be justified?”

And yet time and again America has naively tried to appease Pyongyang’s rulers, both under administrations Republican and Democratic. That makes us complicit in this nightmare, too.

(hat tip: Weekly Standard)