Saturday, August 2, 2014

Global Impact: Update--Why Do US Citizens, South Koreans Continue to Travel to the North?

According to The Associated Press and CNN, the family of an American tour guide who has been detained in North Korea for nearly two years says that he feels abandoned by his government. 

Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper based in Japan, published an interview July 30 with Kenneth Bae, who turns 46, on Friday (July 31), in which he is quoted as saying that nothing seems to be happening in terms of his case. 

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, of Edmonds, WA, said in a written statement Thursday (July 30) that it was the first word the family has heard from the imprisoned American since mid-April 2014.

Bae, who was arrested in November 2012, has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for unspecified hostile acts. He was arrested while leading a tour group in a special North Korean economic zone.

Mr. Bae is the longest-held of three Americans being detained in North Korea.

The Pyongyang government said in June 2014 that it was preparing to try two other US citizens, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle, who also entered North Korea as tourists, for carrying out what have been described as "hostile acts." 

COMMENT: During the course of the last ten years, virtually all US citizens and South Koreans have hopefully learned painful lessons that the "welcome mat" in North Korea strongly discourages US and South Korean visitors.

When I first joined the US Department of State in 1971, as a special agent and in time as a long-term Senior Regional Security Officer (SRSO), the State Department, used to ban travel by US citizens to specified countries where they were prone to become hostages and political pawns.

Then, the Department, in its infinite wisdom, incorrectly determined that US citizens were of "sound mind and could determine on their own what countries were 'safe' and which "ones were not."

Such a fool-hardy notion backfired in the Department's face as naive, often-ignorant Americans in rose-colored glasses flooded the globe to high-threat, atypical rogue states such as Iran, Libya, Iraq, Syria, most of the Middle East, Afghanistan, etc.

What never could have been envisioned was a smooth-talking, Harvard-educated first-term US senator by the name of Barack Obama who was swept into office by promises of "hope and change."

Unfortunately, what the US could never have foreseen was just how precisely Barack Obama would be elected and re-elected in 2008 and 2012, respectively, to become the most-left-leaning President in US history.

President Obama would in time make many promises to US taxpayers that would never be kept, including his signature program eventually known as "Obama-care," which in time would make more many promises to the US electorate, yet very, very few would ever be fulfilled.

As the years passed, particularly under the stewardship of President Obama, the DPRK has never treated US citizens and South Koreans with respect, due process or an entitlement to legal representation. Even Iran actually guarantees foreigners a right to counsel. 

Last summer, authorities sent Kenneth from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss. He was sent back to a work camp earlier this year, only to be re-hospitalized from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver disease and back pain.

Terri Chung, said she was appealing to President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry to help free him.

Tragically, being a US citizen abroad means very little to President Obama unless it is politically beneficial for him to do so.

Like Kenneth Bae, it is not beneficial for President Obama to even help former Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi who has been languishing in a Mexican prison going on four months for taking a wrong turn and ending up south of the US border:

To date, Sergeant Tahmoorressi has served in a Mexican prison for 110+ debilitating days while suffering from PTSD he acquired from two tours in Afghanistan.

For those of our readers who may be interested in making donations to Andrew Tahmoorressi's series of Mexican attorneys, none of which has secured his release, please see the below link:

Now the really interesting part: Former Marine Tahmoorressi has been in Mexican police custody going on four months. In that time, his savings have dissipated from $100,000 to virtually nothing and has yet to see the light of day!

Surely, both President Obama and Mexican President, if either  President has  competent executive staffs, are both intimately aware of Andrew Tahmoorressi's incarceration.

The truth be told, it is President Obama's responsibility to take steps to free Andrew from further incarceration, but he seemingly refuses to act on behalf of a Marine who risked his life for President Obama: