During the winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea, North and South Korea marched together into the stadium. While officials from other countries stood and applauded, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence remained seated. One would have thought Pence had blasphemed the Holy Trinity, such was the immediate backlash, many commenting that he had been disrespectful.
Pence made a big statement in a small way about freedom, justice, and human rights. First, there is no such thing as unified North and South Korea. The whole display is a grotesque façade covering up murderous threats by North against South. Second, standing and applauding North Korea would sideline the myriad documented human rights violations its dictatorial regime has perpetrated on its own and other countries’ citizens.
North Korea no more intends to unify with South Korea than the Eagles intend to split their Superbowl win with the New England Patriots or Ceresei Lannister plans to start a sewing club with Daenerys Targaryen. It’s a propaganda extravaganza wherein reunification happens on DPRK’s terms and under their communist flag, or not all. On Twitter, Noah Rothman, an editor at Commentary, noted North Korea has a 70-year history of such behavior.
North Korea uses propaganda to keep its citizens in compliance and to get the rest of the world to ignore its brutal human rights violations against its own citizens. From restricting information to operating forced labor camps, North Korea treats its citizens like dogs. According to the Human Rights Watch, “the government quashes all forms of disfavored expression and opinion and prohibits any organized political opposition, independent media, free trade unions, and civil society organizations. Religious freedom is systematically repressed.”
“The government also practices collective punishment for alleged anti-state offenses, effectively enslaving hundreds of thousands of citizens, including children, in prison camps and other detention facilities where they face deplorable conditions, abuse by guards, and forced labor,” Human Rights Watch continues.
Fred Warmbier’s son Otto, a U.S. citizen, was thrown into a North Korean prison when he visited on vacation. He died due to beatings he received in that prison. Fred Warmbier is attending the Olympics as Pence’s guest, which casts an important and timely spotlight on North Korea’s inexcusable litany of human rights violations.
Yet mainstream media outlets seem dedicated to casting North Korea in a positive light and the vice president as ignorant. Time writes, “For all of Vice President Mike Pence’s efforts to keep North Korea from stealing the show at the Winter Olympics, the images of the two Koreas marching together — and their officials shaking hands — at a time of heightened tensions on the peninsula proved impossible to counteract.”
ABC News writes, “Pence sat stone-faced in his seat as Moon and North Koreans officials stood together with much of the stadium to applaud their joint team of athletes. White House officials stressed that Pence had applauded only for the American team, but Asia experts said the vice president’s refusal to stand could be seen as disrespectful to the hosts.”
The media also became strangely enamored with Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, at the games.
— CNN (@CNN) February 10, 2018
In the piece, the author writes, “If ‘diplomatic dance’ were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister would be favored to win gold. With a smile, a handshake and a warm message in South Korea’s presidential guest book, Kim Yo Jong has struck a chord with the public just one day into the PyeongChang Games.”
How strange to see members of the media ignoring decades of human rights violations in favor of acting like Kim You Jong is a glamorous princess. It’s not that CNN is unaware of North Korea’s abuses. It ran a documentary reporting about a soldier who defected, was shot while running to safety in South Korea, and whose tapeworms were surgically removed afterward. Why the overblown headlines?
A reporter from The Washington Post writes blindly of the triviality of “side eye” from a woman whose brother starves, wounds, and murders his own people to remain in power.
I can report South Koreans here in Pyeongchang are not as enthralled with Kim Yo Jong and the North Korean cheerleaders as it seems some media are back home.
Something about N.K. killing, starving, & imprisoning its people while threatening South Korea with nuclear annihilation.
— Willie Geist (@WillieGeist) February 11, 2018
Yo Jong has been complicit in massive human rights crimes for which she and her brother will someday be held accountable, either on this earth or before their Creator. Pretending like they are anything other than despots is disingenuous and appalling.