The End of the Beginning: Bringing About a Khrushchev Thaw in the DPRK

In the midst of Britain’s darkest hour, Winston Churchill famously remarked in 1942 that what the country faced was not “the end, it is not even the beginning of the end; but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

If there is anything to describe the events of what we have witnessed in the DPRK in the past week or so, Churchill’s words could not be closer to the truth. We seem to be at a bridge that has never been crossed in the history of the country, and no one is quite sure how long, or even how sturdy, this bridge actually is. The fact that this bridge is now in the horizon may also help some of us to rethink positions we have had in the past as well.

For many of us, from the perspective of observing North Korea from the “outside in,” the DPRK presents some unique and difficult challenges. It is important to note that it is in fact not even a fraction of the country that is responsible for the challenges that we are faced with; our quibble is with the people in Pyongyang who seem to hold the reins of power in that country.

With Kim Jong Il’s death, there has been a renewed interest in what we on the outside should be doing about those folks in Pyongyang we seem to have this quibble with. After all, we seem to be back at square one when it comes to dealing with the regime. Ten years of the Sunshine Policy brought very little in practical progress when it came to forcing the North Koreans to take off the proverbial Aesopian jacket. On the other hand, the last five years of hardline policies have produced equally dismal results. Read the rest of this entry »

Canadian aid organization reports delivery of food aid

First Steps is a Vancouver-based Christian development organization whose primary purpose is preventing child malnutrition in North Korea through programs that provide essential nutrients to young children. The Fall 2011 Newsletter edition is now available.

Two monitoring teams visited over 40 sites confirming the delivery of more than 200 tonnes of food aid to nurseries and orphanages in North Korea.

First Steps Issues An Emergency Appeal

First Steps, an organization dedicated to bringing food aid to North Korean children, issued an emergency appeal last week. Returning from a visit into the interior, Executive Director Susan Ritchie was struck by the dire situation in many of the orphanages. “At each of the sites visited, the team found soybean supplies to last only a few days,” writes Ritchie. The organization is looking to raise enough to send 700 metric tons of soybeans for children, nursing and pregnant mothers. You can find the text of the appeal below: Read the rest of this entry »

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