Sun, Feb 24, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Park faces challenge of N Korea

By Shirley Lin Chang 張林秀菊

There are bright spots for South Korean women in politics and business, but feminists contend that women there in general suffer from lower wages and less chance for promotion in the workplace, and to enhance women’s advancement in South Korea, Park Geun-hye should lead a cultural revolution to enlighten men and change male chauvinism in South Korean life.

The International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International), an influential global network of business and professional women devoted to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women in education, economy and politics, will hold its 18th World Congress in South Korea next year.

Hundreds, if not thousands of outstanding professional women from all over the world will gather to address issues regarding gender equality and enhancement of women’s rights.

Many of them are sure to seize this opportunity to call for Park Geun-hye to undertake actions to promote and protect women’s rights. As former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton has said, “women’s rights are human rights.”

As Park Geun-hye enters the Blue House, her policy priority is how to deal with North Korea, which has threatened to conduct further nuclear test and missile launching.

South Korea has been divided over its inter-Korea policy. In response to Pyongyang’s military and political provocations, the conservative regime under South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reduced investment and aid to the North, and held joint South Korea-US military exercises to deter Pyongyang.

The progressives, including Moon, have blamed the conservatives and the US for the tensions in the Korean Peninsula, and called for a return to the “sunshine policy,” including generous investment and aid, with no strings attached.

During her presidential campaign, Park Geun-hye advocated a cautious and modest approach to improve inter-Korea relations, and offered to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to talk about peace and stability.

She also offered to provide humanitarian aid and resume investment, but on the condition that the North would give up nuclear weapons. Pyongyang apparently rejected her offer and harshly denounced Park Geun-hye during the presidential campaign in an attempt to influence the outcomes of the election.

North Korea poses a threat not only to neighboring countries, but also to its own people.

The conditions of life inside North Korea are terrible, as its 23 millions people have languished in the shadow of a vast network of concentration camps, suffered acute food shortages every year, and had their basic liberties — freedom of speech, thought, religion and movement — severely restricted.

Last year, the UN General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights abuses, with no objection by China, North Korea’s staunch ally.

Despite Pyongyang’s denials, the first-hand testimony and detailed satellite imagery have shed light on a huge network of prison camps in North Korea. These gulags are estimated to hold about 200,000 prisoners.

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