Canada Walks Out On Kim Jong Il Moment of Silence @ UN

So it seems Canada joined many other countries in boycotting this minute of silence requested by the DPRK representative.

As shown in the article, this move had the full support of Canada’s major parties – and in my opinion, was completely appropriate. Some may question whether this was diplomatically correct and whether we were needlessly insulting Pyongyang – and in turn harming any engagement efforts that may take place in the future.

In my opinion, this particular boycott, as well as our own government’s official response to Kim Jong Il’s demise, may, perhaps theoretically do some damage. Yet one has to wonder what exactly we are damaging by taking such a principled stance. Are we at the brink of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs? Are we negotiating some grand deal to allow humanitarian aid into North Korea and close the prison camps? Are we in some major trade talks with North Korea that the rest of the world is not aware of? Is Pyongyang going to turn down food aid through the WFP because most of its major contributors walked out on this moment of silence?

The answer to all those questions is no. At this point of time, the world has very little to lose. In fact one has to wonder how many countries in the world we have to negotiate extensively with so that we can give humanitarian aid to the citizens of that said country. But that’s for another post.

Having a bit of a realist bent in me, I can say that I appreciate when being overtly principled can do damage to achieving a greater goal that may help support the very principles one wishes to be vocal about. For instance, the introduction of a transition program to wean North Korea off what has been a cycle of humanitarian aid in the past ten years could be one example where keeping quiet would benefit the people of North Korea in the long term. Yet this is not such a time. There are no greater goals that are at stake here. And simply put, to pay respects to a man who brutalized his own people violates every principle that Canada stands for – to the point that I would grumble, “political benefits be damned.”

So going back to this moment of silence. A suggestion for the future. What the countries who boycotted this should have done is request another moment of silence: for all those who have been beaten, who have been persecuted, who have been tortured, who have been killed at the behest of Kim Jong Il and his regime.

It only seems fair that if we are to pay tribute to a dictator, we should pay tribute to his victims as well.

Interview with CanKor Brain Trust member Charles Burton

CanKor Brain Trust member Charles Burton’s views on the changing situtation in North Korea were reported in Erica Bajers’ report “Dictator’s death met with concern in Niagara” published in the Niagara Falls Review on December 19, 2011. Article below:

Dictator’s death met with concern in Niagara

By Erica Bajer, QMI, 19 December 2011

North Korean women cry after learning death of their leader Kim Jong Il on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il is worrying local residents with ties to the country.

Unlike the deaths of other high-profile dictators, including most recently Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, Kim Jong-il’s death is not being met with relief and joy.

Instead, his death has caused fear and uncertainty, said Brock University political science professor Charles Burton, who worked on North Korean relations in the Canadian Embassy in Beijing from 1998 to 2000.

“Any change there is destabilizing and anything destabilizing causes worry about what’s going to come next,” he said.

“It’s not a cause for celebration … we don’t know what will happen.”

He said despite the fact the dictator chose his 28-year-old son Kim Jong-un as his successor, it’s unclear if the regime will continue.

Burton said North Koreans equate age and experience with wisdom and may not be willing to accept such a young, inexperienced leader.

“The real concern is the transition,” he said.

Burton said there’s a strong possibility a power struggle between different factions of the Kim family and the military will break out. Read the rest of this entry »

RCI interview of CanKor Brain Trust member Charles Burton on death of KJI

An interview in Mandarin with Charles Burton, in Mandarin, on the leadership succession in North Korea by Anddy Zhao was broadcast on Radio Canada International on December 19 (starts about 7 minutes in after the news). To listen, click here.

CanKor’s Jack Kim interviewed by CBC radio

Toronto is home to Canada’s largest group of North Korean defectors. Jack Kim, a Toronto lawyer and regular writer for CanKor says Kim Jong-il’s death signals a huge turning point. To listen, click link below:

CBC.ca | Ontario Today | Toronto is Home to 200 North Korean Defectors

Cankor Editor interviewed by La Presse

Corée du Nord: une situation explosive

by Mathieu Perreault,  La Presse

Célébrations du 40e anniversaire de l'arrivée au pouvoir de Kim Jong-il, le 18 juin 2004, à Pyongyang. PHOTO: ARCHIVES REUTERS

Notre journaliste est l’un des rares au Canada à avoir fait un reportage en Corée du Nord, en 2001. Il nous livre ici son analyse.

Erich Weingartner n’en croyait pas ses oreilles, hier un peu avant 23h, quand La Presse lui a appris la nouvelle. Immédiatement, il a entrevu le caractère explosif de la situation.

«La succession de Kim Jong-il était enclenchée depuis l’an dernier, mais l’oncle et la tante de l’héritier, Kim Jong-un, devaient avoir plusieurs années pour le préparer au pouvoir», explique M. Weingartner, qui est l’un des Canadiens à avoir le plus souvent séjourné en Corée du Nord. «Dans les journaux et à la télé, on voyait depuis un an les Kim père et fils ensemble. Mais on ne voyait jamais le genre d’hommage à Kim Jong-un qui semble d’usage pour le chef de ce pays.» Read the rest of this entry »

CanKor Editor on Voice of America

CanKor editor-in-chief Erich Weingartner was interviewed by Eunjung (EJ )Cho, of Voice of American on the difference between secular and faith-based NGO approaches to DPRK food aid. The article can be read in the Korean original here.

(Those who are able to use the Google translator can probably make out the gist of the article in English or other languages. Unfortunately, the Google translator hasn’t been perfected as yet, and seems to have a particularly humorous interpretation of the Weingartner name.)

Dear Leader: We almost won! North Korea plays against state censorship

by Nick Aveling, National Post, 15 June, 2010

North Korea will face Brazil on June 15 in their first Group G 2010 World Cup football tournament match in South Africa (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

The North Koreans are bound to suffer a questionable defeat on Tuesday due to unforeseeable circumstances and unbelievably bad luck — but their exploits will shine for all ages thanks to their valiant hearts, which beat in tune with the Dear Leader’s.

Either that or the North Korean media won’t report at all on the game against perennial World Cup favourite Brazil, say observers.

“All of the media is censored in North Korea, so a serious defeat is not going to be taken very kindly,” said Erich Weingartner, who distributed food aid from Pyongyang in the late 1990s, becoming the first Canadian to achieve resident status in North Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

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