* Beginning in the March issue of Compassion, we will publish excerpts from the English version of 『An Arduous Journey to Peace - A Memoir』 (working title) written by Han. S. Park and scheduled to be published by the end of the year.Professor Park taught peace to thousands of young people for 45 years, mainly at the University of Georgia Department of International Relations and the Institute for International Affairs (GLOBIS), and has worked in various fields to see such peace realized. Professor Park's memoir, 『An Arduous Journey to Peace』, provides a look back on Korea’s modern history, from the Japanese colonial period to the present time in 2022.Additionally, this book examines basic political concepts, such as human rights, democracy, and socialism, and in that basis evaluates the United States, South Korea, and North Korea, as well as the long unresolved conflicts on the Korean Peninsula and with the United States. The memoir provides important historical perspectives and an in-depth examination of current issues. * In this article, 'North Korea' is denoted as 'Joseon'. In the October 1994 Geneva Agreement, the United States promised to provide Joseon (also known as North Korea or the DPRK) with two 1,000 megawatt light water reactors in exchange for Joseon freezing the nuclear development activities at Yongbyon. The US agreed to provide 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil per year until the reactors were completed. However, this promise was not honored. The US’ failure to deliver on its promise worsened the energy situation in Joseon, the aftermath of which led to the Arduous March in the mid-1990s. The devastation Joseon suffered during this period is clearly shown by the fact that roughly 2 million Koreans died of starvation. I visited Joseon several times during this Arduous March period. Each time, I witnessed elementary and middle school students wearing red scarfs around their necks march in the street, singing military songs. It was literally an ‘arduous march’ to overrule hunger with the iron will of the people. In 1998, Kim Jong-il put the implementation of the military-first policy in full swing, and the US further strengthened economic sanctions against North Korea. The sanctions were intended to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear and missile programs, and many countries in the international community, including the United Nations, actively participated in this US policy. However, it is extremely unlikely that Joseon will succumb to the US economic sanctions and comply with the will of the US. As mentioned above, even if the economic foundation of Joseon is damaged by US economic sanctions, legitimacy of Juche’s ideological foundation will be kept intact. This is why the US policy of continually sanctioning North Korea has failed to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. 'Military-First Politics Research Institute' propaganda poster, 2005 I should note, however, that withholding food as a weapon is much more brutal than using nuclear ones. In international politics, nuclear weapons are understood not as a means of war but as a means of diplomatic negotiation. Paradoxically, the horrendously destructive power of nuclear weapons has limited its practical use. On the other hand, the US strategy of of withholding food directly threatens the survival of human beings who must eat every day. The United Nations Security Council’s US-led economic sanctions on Iraq which lasted for 13 years, resulted in approximately half a million children under the age of five starving to death in the 1990s. According to a 2018 UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) report, about 60,000 children were on the verge of starvation due to the US-led economic sanctions against North Korea. When I visited a daycare center in Joseon during the Arduous March, I saw children dying of starvation firsthand. When I asked the Joseon officials who where guiding me where the children’s parents were, they replied that they were all dead. Think about it. Won’t parents with starving children give their children the last food left until the moment they themselves die of starvation? It was the most miserable sight I had ever seen – the sight of those children starving to death in the nursery. I returned to my lodgings with the Joseon officials, but I couldn’t shake the sight out of my mind. The images of the dying children became even more vivid. I quietly locked the door and approached the Joseon officials, who were almost twice as tall as me. (I’m short. I’ve met two people in my life who are shorter than me, and they’re Park Chung-hee and Deng Xiaoping.) I looked up and glared straight at them, punching them with all my might. Their glasses fell to the ground. I almost wailed, “Your belly looks plumpy! How the hell could you let the children in the daycare center die like that!” The officials wrapped their arms around me to restrain me. Together we fell down to the floor and wept out loud. The sadness didn’t go away no matter how long I cried. At the Hanoi Summit with the United States on February 28, 2019, Kim Jong-un asked the United States to “remove some of the UN sanctions, that is, items that interfere with the civilian economy and people’s lives.” Kim Jong-un’s request must have been to alleviate the Joseon people’s suffering from hunger. But Trump rejected the request, and the US Congress welcomed the breakdown of the Summit. They criticized the human rights abuses in North Korea and raised their voices that economic sanctions should be further strengthened. Against this backdrop where 60,000 children in Joseon were starving to death due to the US economic sanctions, what can be the meaning of the “human rights” they were vehemently advocating? The 2019 North Korea–United States Hanoi Summit ©Hankyoreh While I was at the University of Georgia (UGA), I created and taught a human rights course for decades. In 1995, I created The Center for the Study of Global Issues (Globis) to study and solve human rights issues outside the classroom. I have also struggled to properly establish the concept of human rights while discussing human rights issues with President Jimmy Carter over the years. Carter was one who included human rights on the foreign policy agenda. From the perspective I have studied, the concept of human rights in the United States reflects the values and interests of the countries that won World War II. In other words, their concept of human rights was not of the universal values of mankind, but the limited views of victorious nations including the United States. Joseon also has its own concept of human rights, and it has advantages and disadvantages just like the one found in the United States. Human rights cannot be only of the United States or of Korea. There can be many types of human rights. I believe that human rights are largely based on three principles. The first principle is universalism. Every human being born into this world can enjoy these rights. Therefore, it isn’t true that the United States has human rights while Joseon does not. The second principle is inalienability. These rights are yours from birth, and no one can take them away. The third principle is shared responsibility. This means, for example, that if a child is starving in Pyongyang, I should feel it is my responsibility and not the child’s alone. I also believe that human rights, based on the above-mentioned principles (universalism, inalienability, and shared responsibility), are largely composed of six dimensions. Firstly, a right to life. Survival is a human right and occupies the most important dimension of human rights. Secondly, a right to belonging. It is the right of a person to belong to a certain group and lead his or her life. Thirdly, a right to equality. This means that human beings have the right not to be discriminated against for any reason. Fourthly, a right to choice, that is, the right of an individual or group to freely choose certain values. Fifthly, a right to love. It is the human right to love. For example, instead of marrying in consideration of the authority of the family to which they belong, humans are bound by the right of love that cannot be decided by the parents. In addition, the right of separated families to love each other can also be called the right to love. Sixthly, a right to liberation. This refers to the human right to be freed from the restraints of time and space, specifically religious liberation or deliverance. Human rights can be fully realized when all of the above six dimensions are met. The concrete form of the concept of human rights, which the United States has advocated as a universal value for mankind, can be found in the 1948 ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates the inherent freedom and equality of all human beings: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” ‘Free’ is capitalism’s key-word, while ‘equal’ is that of socialism. And, theoretically, they are not compatible. The reason they were both stipulated was to satisfy the desires of both victors of World War II, the US and the Soviet Union, simultaneously. Article 1 simply juxtaposed the freedom of the US’ capitalist state and the equality of the Soviet Union’s socialist state. Therefore, the concept of human rights advocated by the United States was incapable of being universally valued. Out of the six dimensions of human rights that I classified above, the United States' concept of human rights emphasizes the right to choose. The United States’ highly valued ‘right to choice‘ essentially means ‘political freedom’, requiring a democratic system that can guarantee that freedom. However, of those 6 dimensions, America’s concept of human rights has a fatal flaw, in that it neglects the basic right to life or survival, one of the most important rights. This is how the United States can constantly criticize the human rights violations in Joseon while completely ignoring the obvious fact that many Joseon children starve to death due to America’s harsh economic sanctions. Joseon, which chose socialism, prioritizes the sovereignty of the State over individual human rights. They judge that only when the sovereignty of the state is guaranteed can individual human rights be guaranteed. Therefore, the concept of human rights in Joseon is relatively weak in terms of indiviudual choice, whereas those individual options are what is emphasized most strongly by the American concept of human rights. Conversely, the right to life, the right to belonging, and the right to equality, all which are highly valued by human rights in Joseon, are valued weakly in the United States. Through this analysis, we can understand the relative terms by which the United States and Joseon conceptualize human rights. No matter how strongly the US uses its own concept of human rights to criticize Joseon, it will not yield results because Joseon conceptualizes human rights in completely different terms. If the United States criticizes Islam in the name of Christianity, can that criticism work in the Arab world? Accordingly, despite its longstanding efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, the ultimate reason the United States has failed to achieve any remarkable results lies in the “modes of thought” that the United States takes for granted. Instead of endlessly intimidating and demonizing Joseon, and driving countless Joseon people into a living hell, the US should make efforts to reform the mode of thought to which they are accustomed. If the United States truly thinks about the “human rights” of those children in Joseon on the verge of starvation, they should formulate and put in practice a new policy that can solve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully.