m a r k a n d e y a

No, not “his” country

Posted by Brian on June 2, 2004

The Joongang has a new editorial on the release of convicted spy Robert Kim. LEet’s take a look:

Robert Kim is finally living at home. Mr. Kim served seven years in prison in the United States on espionage charges after being convicted of passing classified U.S. defense information on a North Korean submarine that had infiltrated South Korean waters in 1996. It is fortunate that Mr. Kim can live in the comfort of his own home, instead of in a prison cell, under house arrest untill his prison term ends on July 27. But we still feel sorry for him because he is not yet entirely free.

The price that he paid for loving his country was huge, yet the country of his love did nothing for him. The moment Robert Kim was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Korean government turned its back and pretended that he didn’t exist. As the court battle went on and the money that his family had raised by selling their house was exhausted, Robert Kim studied the law by himself in an attempt to reduce his sentence. His wife barely made a living by working at churches run by Korean-Americans. Yet, our government did nothing.

The government can’t excuse itself by saying that it did nothing for Mr. Kim because he was an American citizen. If that is so, was it just a one-sided love affair of Robert Kim, who said that despite going to prison, he did not regret what he had done? His case is very different from that of an American Jew who passed more than 1,000 classified documents to Israel and received a life sentence in prison. The Israeli government is still trying hard to have him released from prison. If a country turns its back on someone who has sacrificed himself for his country, that country has already failed in its sacred duty. No wonder Mr. Kim described himself as a person his fatherland abandoned. The press that failed to support him continuously should be ashamed as well.

For the next three years Mr. Kim will be on probation. As he has declared bankruptcy, he will have difficulty in getting by in his daily life. The government needs to give Mr. Kim support. That his supporters will soon start to raise money is encouraging. The people should chip in to support him. If he wants to spend the rest of his life in Korea, to help him to do so would be a small gesture by the country he loves for the sacrifices he has made.

I’ve already commented on the Kim case at length here, so I won’t go into to my details now. I just want to reiterate one basic point in hopes that somehow, somewhere in Korea, one journalist just might take a step back and question whether or not editorials like this deserve to be penned.

Here goes…. really slowly:

ROBERT… KIM… IS… AN… AMERICAN… CITIZEN…

“HIS COUNTRY…” IS…  AMERICA…

I know, I know… Koreans think differently about such things… it’s all blood and Minjok to them. But still, in 2004, you’d think Korean journalists would have a more nuanced understanding on the issue of citizenship in a global village. See, some people leave the country of their birth and take up citizenship elsewhere. Shocking, I know, but it’s known to happen. Robert Holley here in Korea is a good example. Robert Kim is another example.

Of course, Robert Holley seems to be taking his oath of citizenship seriously while Robert Kim must have been drunk on soju when he made his.

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One Response to “No, not “his” country”

  1. wanawatu said

    Na Robert Holley will go visit the U.S. and pick up another passport. You never lose the citzenship of your country of birth.

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