Int'l Alliance of Intellectuals Proposed

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), March 31, 1999 | Go to article overview

Int'l Alliance of Intellectuals Proposed


A visiting French journalist yesterday called for the creation of an international alliance of intellectuals to squarely deal with the Kim Jong-il regime of inhumane nature and the worsening human rights situation in North Korea.

Pierre Rigoulot, editor-in-chief of the Magazine of Social History, issued the appeal at a breakfast meeting in the Seoul Club, hosted by former Seoul mayor Kim Sang-chul, who leads the organizing committee for an international conference aimed at shedding light on North Koreans' human rights situation and an increasing number of North Korea refugees.

Contending that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is responsible for the famine hitting North Koreans, a group of 21 European intellectuals, including Rigoulot, issued a declaration on March 10. The action was reciprocated by a similar declaration on March 19 by 78 South Korean opinion leaders from such fields as academia, the cultural community, journalist and the legal circle.

``It was not an easy job for European intellectuals to divert their attention to the Korean issues,'' he said. Rigoulot even conceded that there is not much maneuvering room for the intellectual community to improve the situation in North Korea.

However, Rigoulot noted that the international community, first of all, should embrace the notion that the North's food shortages and economic debacle were not caused by natural calamities, such as floods or drought, but by North Korea's failing political system.

``(North Korean leader) Kim Jong-il is a criminal, worse than the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. We all should become realists if there is a way to get rid of North Korea's totalitarian system,'' he said.

He noted that communism had lost its once-sweeping charm and attraction in France, although a small number of intellectuals are still ``dreaming'' that communism has the superior side over democracy in some aspects. …

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