August Letters Meet Resistance

Lee Eun Sol  |  2011-08-22 13:47
A cultural festival intended to draw public attention to North Korean human rights issues was invaded over the weekend by a group of protestors including individuals from the Korean Federation of Trade Unions and the six main opposition parties.

The Letters of August festival, which was organized for Saturday night in front of Seoul City Hall, was an initiative launched by seven student groups including North Korean Youth for North Korean Human Rights and Students Alliance for North Korean Human Rights.

However, the protestors mostly attempted to disrupt the festival using loudhailers to shout slogans from the other side of a police line, although some crossed onto the plaza to stir up a more intimidating atmosphere.

Eventually, the event ended early after the big screen suddenly cut out during the final event, a screening of the film Kimjongilia.

While there was no physical conflict between the two sides, the legally sanctioned event was interrupted by the group of unlawful protestors.

Present at the event were Hwang Woo Yea, floor leader of the GNP; fellow National Assembly lawmaker Kim Dong Seon; President of Save NK Lee Jeong Hoon; President of Open Radio for North Korea Ha Tae Kyung and Professor Oh Gil Nam.

Hwang, in his address said, I really thought the people of North Korea could take some hope from reading the letter by Jang Hye Ji in which she wished she could share her own food with the children of North Korea.

We have a duty to ensure the human rights of the people of North Korea, he added.

On the North Korea Human Rights Act currently before the National Assembly, Hwang went on, The Democratic Party has laid out all these conditions for the enactment of a law specifying the provision of humanitarian support, but no matter what the situation, we dont want the act to become about support or mutual exchange. The bill has to be about monitoring the protection of human rights in North Korea and, that being the case, we cant tolerate any changes to the act which might eradicate any of the substance of it.

Meanwhile, although he was not able to attend, Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon Soo himself wrote a letter to the festival in which he said We need to encourage North Korea to shut down its political prisons and work to secure its citizens right to life.

All of us need to come out in support of our brothers and sisters in North Korea and, above all, enact the North Korea Human Rights Act as soon as possible.

The event included an awards ceremony for the best letters as well as readings and lectures from the winners, and cultural performances including a recital from defector Park Seong Jin and a vocal and dance routine by missionary group Durihana.

17 year old Jang Hye Ji, who won the youth bracket of the letter-writing competition, said upon winning, The people of North Korea also have a right to enjoy peace and freedom, and even if I cant be a big help to any of your happiness, I feel proud that my letter may give you hope.
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