North Korea: totalitarianism in PyongyangFelix Peckham

The 2018 Winter Olympics, hosted in the South Korean town of PeyongChang, are an opportunity to marvel at the vitality and diversity of the community of nations. More importantly though, it is a chance to isolate and denounce North Korea, one of the most severe perpetrators of human rights abuses in modern history.

The Olympics are an occasion to celebrate sporting prowess and to revel in the coming together of nations. This does not mean, however, that all nations should be entitled to participate. Some nations—specifically the leaders of these nations—forfeit their chance to send athletes to compete. Just as the Olympics can bind nations together for the love of sport, it can also unite them in condemnation of the perpetrators of evil.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un craves acceptance and recognition from this very community of nations. Respect for North Korea means acknowledgment of its legitimacy as a sovereign nation. There is no better manifestation of such respect than by being not only invited, but openly welcomed, to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics.

It is an opportunity to underscore the redundancy of the North Korean regime, to accentuate the contrast between the two Koreas, between liberal, prosperous democracy and suffocating, inhuman totalitarianism.

There is no sugarcoating South Korea’s invitation to the North to participate, or the support and approval from the International Olympic Committee and every other nation which has sent delegations to PeyongChang. This amounts to legitmising a totalitarian regime which affords its citizens no human or political rights.

Britain’s inaction on this issue is unacceptable. While we may be divided in our domestic political realm, and our capacity and reach in foreign affairs is minute, we still have our core values and beliefs in tolerance, political debate and the fundamental right of every citizen to live under a benevolent state which acts in their best interests.

North Korea should be rebuked, not appeasedFelix Peckham

Britain’s silence amounts to spineless apologism for a political system that fails to feed its people, and severely persecutes those who dare attempt to defy them.

Perhaps the greatest irony in this sad state of affairs is that US Vice President Mike Pence is the only figure taking a stand against North Korea, and defying the empty and substance-less headlines of ‘peace in Korea’ and ‘unification’. Pence has actively rebuked the North’s participation in the games, and has snubbed Kim Jong-Un’s sister, who is leading the North Korean delegation. The only person willing to take a moral and principle stance on the brutal oppression of an entire nation is someone who opposes a woman’s right to abortion, and LGBT civil rights and believes global warming is a ‘myth’.

Pictures of the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, smiling while shaking hands with Kim Jong Un’s sister and the two Korea’s marching under a ‘unification flag’ are especially distressing. Korea is not a unified nation. It is a peninsula of two inconceivably disparate halves, artificially halved along the most heavily militarized border in the world.

Ironically, welcoming North Korea to the PeyongChang games is encouraging and incentivizing their program of nuclear proliferation. History has vindicated the value of the nuclear warhead: it gives you a seat at the table. Nuclear weapons are also a preventative measure against proactive US military intervention to facilitate favorable regime change. Libya and Iraq have been valuable lessons for the North Korean regime. Now, North Korea can simultaneously pursue its nuclear ambitions and not have any semblance of respect for human rights, while being welcomed to the Winter Olympics. This underlines the cruel realism that pervades the international community. 

North Korea’s participation is a façade. It’s a crude attempt by Seoul to guarantee the security of the games, and the economic and sovereign integrity of South Korea. Not to mention appeasing North Korea means reducing the likelihood of a preemptive nuclear or ballistic missile attack on Guam, Hawaii or the US mainland. The United States will protect the interests of its client state, South Korea, at any cost. For the US, South Korea is its principal ally in the region. It’s a pawn in the geopolitical chess game being fought between the US and China. It’s a foothold in the region which will define the economic progress of the 21st century; and a sentry-post on the doorstop of a superpower which could potentially threaten the United States in a military showdown.


Mountain View

The dark side of tourism in North Korea

The Winter Olympics should be used to universally condemn North Korea. It is an opportunity to underscore the redundancy of the North Korean regime, to accentuate the contrast between the two Koreas, between liberal, prosperous democracy and suffocating, inhuman totalitarianism.

Instead, a few North Korean athletes will be marched to and from the games, under the watchful auspices of an army of North Korean state-officials and minders. The athletes will be cruelly exposed to the realities of South Korea—far from being the backward land of economic ineptitude that they are relentlessly brainwashed into believing—it is a utopia of prosperity and political freedom. The North Korean athletes won’t have long to savor this before being dragged back to their hermit kingdom.

History will look unfavorably upon these Winter Olympics, and their role in prolonging the North Korean regime. 

Samsung, the South Korean electronics giant, which is perhaps the best possible anecdote of South Korea’s pioneering of developmental capitalism, is giving competing athletes special edition mobile phones. The North Korean athletes, however, at the behest of the North Korean government, will not receive this gift. Not only would such technology expose the lies upon which the regime is built upon, but would enable North Koreans to communicate with one another, and the world, precipitating the collapse of a regime which is dependent upon a total lack of information for its people.

North Korean style 'freedom'Felix Peckham

Britain should boycott the Winter Olympics. They have become a political farce, designed to appease North Korea. The North Korean athletes are agency-less. Unlike the delegations from most other countries, they have no political rights. They almost certainly have never used a computer, and won’t know what Twitter or the internet is. They are the unfortunate victims of kleptocratic, totalitarian politics.

History will look unfavourably upon these Winter Olympics, and their role in prolonging the North Korean regime. How could the world let this happen? And why do we tolerate such evil, let alone appease it?