firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
Heavy Silence of Authors
A great deal of time has passed since we knew the miserable life of people in North Korea. We have known very well how poor they are, how terribly their freedom is suppressed, and how harshly their personal rights are violated
We also know there are concentration camps everywhere in North Korea which are operated in a cruel way as that of the Nazis or Stalin and hundreds of thousands of people are confined. Based on the standards of universal human rights, we know North Korea itself is a huge concentration camp. It's been a long time since the number of people, who escape the enormous concentration camp at the risk of their life, has amounted to hundreds of thousands.
A growing number of people has begun to worry about, speak about, and grapple with this issue out of humanitarianism, for they couldn't ignore the pain of our neighbors. Though they haven't produced visible results due to great difficulty in reality, their noble mind must be highly valued.
Some of the people are politicians, journalists, and religionists. So they are making sincere efforts in the field of politics, the media, and religions.
What if some of them are writers? Then, they will take part by writing. A poet will write a poem and a novelist will write a novel in order to express their worries about North Koreans and to grapple with the issue. Even if their efforts fail to produce tangible result in a short period, their spirit will remain alive and shed some light on the dark reality.
I don't know any famous writer in Korea who is taking the lead in such activity or who once took the lead before.
In 2000 I wrote an essay entitled "North Korean Issue and Korean Literature" and pointed out that there's no writer, within the scope of my acquaintance, who seriously try to understand the suffering of people in North Korea, and examined myself from various angles. Then I finished the writing as follows.
After many years, if someone describes the history of Korean literature and reaches the period of our times, I wonder in what way he would evaluate a majority of writers who turned a blind eye to the issue that can't be ignored. I believe we should start to ponder over this matter before it is too late.
Five years have passed since I wrote the essay.
During the past five years, more data about North Korea became available and they evidently show no improvement was made to the life of people there.
Nevertheless, the majority of writers in Korea still observe a strict silence concerning the matter. Not even a slight change was made to their attitude. Poets and novelists in this land behave, like they did five years ago, as if nothing is happening to North Koreans, as if they don't know anything about the pitiable condition of the people, or as if they've heard nothing about them.
Such a deep silence and cold attitude remind me of two bible characters who appear in the book of Luke, chapter 10 and verses 30 through 36. They are a priest and a Levite in the illustration of Samaritan.
A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jer'i·cho and fell among robbers, who both stripped him and inflicted blows, and went off, leaving him half-dead. Now, by coincidence, a certain priest was going down over that road, but, when he saw him, he went by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite also, when he got down to the place and saw him, went by on the opposite side. But a certain Samaritan traveling the road came upon him and, at seeing him, he was moved with pity. So he approached him... (the rest is omitted)
I feel I need to emphasize one thing mentioned earlier in the writing of "North Korean Issue and Korean Literature". I'm not criticizing all the writers in Korea for this problem. There are many writers who have explored an inner person of a human or aesthetic value of literature. I understand it's unreasonable to ask them to grapple with the problem of North Korea. Therefore, my criticism is limited to authors who have professed to write on the subject of freedom, human rights, a nationality, the realities of life, and so on. It can't be absurd to ask them to deal with North Korean issue.
Looking back on it, I often raised objections against works of such writers, sometimes in an aggressive manner. However, the abjection or the attack targeted only the "conclusion" of the works. I've always put trust in their "original intention" which motivated them to speak about freedom, human rights, a nationality, the realities of life, etc. I've even respected their pureness and seriousness of the motivation.
Nevertheless, as I observe their heavy silence even after the undescribably miserable condition of people in North Korea was unveiled, I feel like my respect and trust toward them was betrayed. I feel like I don't know them anymore, further, scared of them. Indeed, they do scare me. Their incomprehensible silence scares me. The cold-hearted attitude of those who have called for freedom, human rights, and justice with great enthusiasm, scares me.
Yi Dong-Ha (a professor of University of Seoul, Department of Korean Literature)