Monday, May 08, 2017

N. Korea detains US citizen. What is our responsibility?

North Korea said on Sunday it has detained another U.S. citizen on suspicion of "hostile acts" against the state, which would make him the fourth American to be held by the isolated country amid heightened diplomatic tensions with Washington.

Kim Hak Song, who worked for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, was detained on Saturday, the North's KCNA news agency said.

"A relevant institution of the DPRK detained American citizen Kim Hak Song on May 6 under a law of the DPRK on suspension of his hostile acts against it," KCNA said. DPRK is short for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

A third U.S. citizen, Kim Sang Dok, who was associated with the same school, was detained in late April for hostile acts, according to the North's official media.

The U.S. State Department said it is aware of the latest reported detention.

"The security of U.S. citizens is one of the department's highest priorities. When a U.S. citizen is reported to be detained in North Korea, we work with the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang," a State Department official said in an emailed statement, declining to provide further details for privacy reasons.

The reported detention comes as tensions on the Korean peninsula run high, driven by harsh rhetoric from Pyongyang and Washington over the North's pursuit of nuclear weapons in response to what it says is a threat of U.S.-instigated war.

The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) was founded by evangelical Christians and opened in 2010. Its students are generally children of the country's elite.

The volunteer faculty of PUST, many of whom are evangelical Christians, has a curriculum that includes subjects once considered taboo in North Korea, such as capitalism. The college is an unlikely fit in a country that has been condemned by the United States for cracking down on freedom of religion.
I had to read this story 3 times because it seems so batshit crazy.  Think about it.  The N. Koreans have allowed a university on their soil that was started by evangelical Christians?  If that doesn't raise the hair on the back of your neck then I don't know what will.  But it gets worse.  Not only have they allowed this school to operate but they've also allowed the elite of their nation to attend?  Even more curious is that they allow American citizens (do they have dual citizenship?) to teach there?

This whole thing smells.

I don't even need an imagination to smell the whiff of a monitoring op going on at that place.  If I could suspect it then surely the N. Koreans can too.

But put all that aside.

Let's assume that these guys are as clean as the Virgin Mary.

What is our responsibility to act when a US citizen does stupid shit, makes stupid decision and travels to stupid places?  Its a question that needs to be asked.  How many women have traveled to ISIS controlled land in the past years because they were lured there by jihadist?  How many missionaries have gone to dangerous parts of the world only to go missing?

I am strongly leaning toward none at all.

This is getting a bit tiresome.  If someone ignores obvious dangers and takes on a job in a hostile country, travels to an area of the world that is lawless or ruled by people that are hostile to the US then its on them, not us.  Common sense might not be a common virtue but when it comes time to pay the bill for being stupid then the stupid can pick up the check all by themselves.

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