The interview with Rev. Choi Jae-Young is organized for the special corner for the 70th anniversary of the Emancipation and of the Division of Korea and is carried out by NK today's reporter Mun Gyung-Hwan.
Rev. Choi, an Korean-American, is devoting his life taking his role as 'a bridge' for divided countries, South and North Korea. His essays on North Korea appear in a series in the United States.
Mun Gyung-Hwan(Mun): Recently, the South and North relation has strained. So, I'd like to hear your opinion on present issues such as land mine accident. What do you see from this accident? Is there any solution to the conflict?
Choi Jae-Young(Choi): The Armistice Agreement doesn't mean the end of the war. Even if I admit the adversary between the respective military authorities, it seems clear that the South is bringing false charge on North Korea about the accident, on which I feel shame and sad. I mean, the situation is ludicrous.
As far as I know, the blast was to be confirmed originally as usual incident at Paju First division where the front line is nearby because the downpour causes such accidents during the summertime, sweeping them down by the stream. However, in 6 days after the first announcement, everything has been changed tight surrounding the accident. The South's government said it was all the work of North Korea without any definite statements from the military authorities.
We are supposed not to play on a single news into a hostile policy against North Korea.
Mun: The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian(UFG) exercise is on manoeuvre now. Have you ever heard of any opinions about the exercise on North Korea side?
Choi: North Korea claims its sovereignty about the military exercise. They have strong feeling of doubts on the present military stratum of South Korea which every power is subordinated below President Obama: minister of national defense ranks lower than Obama, the chairman of joint chiefs of staff lower than the minister of national defense, US pacific commander, and USAF commander so on. They point it out as humiliation on a independent nation.
And speaking of the exercise, it is impossible for North Korea to just sit by and watch the exercise where it faces The South-US joint exercise periodically and to be worse, with Japan quarterly. This kind of military situation surrounding the Peninsula could be explained for North Korean's state of tension or a quasi-state of war.
Since the time has far passed by, 70 years from the division of this country, It is time we had put the old South-US 'joint' exercise behind and had South and North 'united' military exercise. I think it could be a solution to every problem on the peninsula. We must protect our nation by ourselves, not by a foreign country.
During my lectures throughout the country, I couldn't find any region without US military bases. But going back to Roh Moo-Hyun administration, we had agreed on to take our military control back from USA, which has been upsetted these days.
Unification cannot come true when it is unilateral. It requires to be mutual.
And to be mutual, we have to keep our eyes onto each other, and share emotions mutually. However, with the South and US joint exercise on going, there only remain barriers to Unification negotiation. In short, There is no possibility for North Korea to willingly comply with the request for 'conversation' as long as the exercise goes on. The time will rise for the Unification if the authorities strive to stop the South-US joint exercise.
Mun: Recently, South Korean Media tends to harm the relationship between two nations. They don't give a minimum effort to confirm the facts about North Korean Society.
Choi: As to the South Korean Media, I've seen many of Media in South Korea being irresponsible and imprudent on their news. I guess they manipulate the situation that is easy to use North Korea as issues since there is no way for North Korea to sue them. There only be absence of any definitive evidence nor the grounds. So they just publish them irresponsibly.
However, only 'the facts' could lead to right policies on Unification.
Media should bear the Unification-oriented mind, too. However, They spread the rumors of the execution of high ranking people and to be worse, even the President is using a word 'reign of terror' toward North Korea. But I've never seen the expression of 'purge(as an execution)' to downfall or dismissal there. We've seen many comeback cases of those who are purged in South Korea, haven't we?
We have also administrative procedure of comeback for the discharged people and same as in North Korea. There were ungrounded news of asylum cases of those who were already buried in the Patriot martyr tombs only to inject the horrible images of a tyrant or reign of terror to people. They are writing such cases of North Korea using horrible expressions out of context, which is not advisable.
Same of the Shame on the report of the purge of deputy prime minister of North Korea. The mere basis was the long absence from TV broadcasting. But later, confirmed that he was just working outside the TV, which is common in North Korea.
Mun: I've heard that you have visited South-North graveyards in recent 3 years as a planning business for 70th anniversaries of division of Korea, and have opened your visit essay. What is the target and purpose of your business?
Choi: For 3 years past, I've done my duty as a bridge between South and North Korea, through which I've made my own prospect on the 70th anniversaries of Independence of my country. In the first place, I didn't have any national vision nor alternatives for Unification. It was like I had been in the middle of the dark. But then I've made my mind to reconcile our past through the visits to South-North national graveyard.
Personally, the reconciliation is not a political but a ministry issue for me.
So when I was there, I've tried as much as I could make for the reconciliation as I touched the graves of our ancestors. As a matter of fact, I've sometimes conceived of kind of skeptical vision such as 'Could the reconciliation be possible, even for the deads which was impossible?'. But there, I've always prayed for the reconciliation, cooperation, and the fraternity of our nation, the nation who unfortunately stand face-to-face after tragic history of the killing war-fare of our brothers and sisters. I've prayed for the communication and unification with my all heart.
Since every religion pursues love and forgiveness for the best, I hope every politicians strive for the national reconciliation and cooperation modeling after me as a religious man. Even if it were a enemy's graveyard, If you can hold your hand out to the enemy and embrace him/her, It's not that you're surrendering but gaining a true victory and practicing a true action of love. I know I could be misunderstood for this mission by both nations but at the same time I'm sure the livings should do this work which the deceased could not.
Mun: I've heard some people criticize North Korea that the graves are merely for the high ranking people where it claims itself as a nation for people.
Choi: It's not true. If you visit there, you can easily find graves of those who have fought for the country during the war of liberation nearby the Pyeong-Yang and also every provinces you visit, where there is no separation among the officers and soldiers. Unlike South Korea where there are differentiation in size of graves and gravestones of general, officers and soldiers, there is no distinction among them in North Korea.
Mun: Lastly, Please comment for our whole countrymen standing at the 70th anniversaries of division.
Choi: It is our 70th anniversaries of Independence and 62th anniversaries of Armistice Agreement and we are standing at the turning point of our history. Claiming Unification from the teeth forward and waving national flag without heart must be done. We shall rather advance on friendly policy toward North Korea not the hostile or confrontational policies. I wish the national cooperation from the both nations through establishing independent representative department. If you take a look at the inter-Korean basic agreement, the relationship of South and North Korea is regulated special, which is to be Unification-oriented in the future.
The Unification of the South and North Korea is the Unification of Asia and furthermore, the world. It is a great work of world history. It is about unifying the total energy of East asia and, by all means, every men of Progressive and Conservative group should be united to make a use of USA as a nation.
The history has been tough for those who and what are against the USA.
But if we unite and gain power, we can control USA and we must unite for North Korea and USA to conclude peace agreement. And Since it is possible for the overseas Koreans to freely come and go both nations, I hope that the brethren take a part of the roles for the Unification as well.
The organization I have established is NK vision 2020 to strive to achieve the quasi-Unification, not to say perfect Unification. I'd wish for its best from this year.
Mun: I see. Thank you so much for the long attendance today.
Translate: Jang Jae-Hee