Samara O'Shea

Yeah, What He Said!

James B. Kim—the president of Korean American Students at Yale University—wrote an excellent letter to his congressman regarding the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Here’s the link , and the letter is below.

Following 4th of July weekend (a great reminder of our own freedom!) I’m going to use this letter as a model to write my congressman on behalf of the girls, send another letter to the Chinese embassy, and I think it’s time to write Al Gore.

Tomorrow, I’m headed to Newport, RI to enjoy the long weekend and savory my independence. I’ll be there until Monday, so I probably won’t blog again until Tuesday. My friends and fellow Americans, I wish you all a safe and wonderful holiday.

Dear Representative Buck McKeon,

I am a resident of your district and a long-time supporter of your legislative initiatives, particularly those aimed at making higher education affordable for students of all backgrounds. I am writing today with regard to an issue that you have likely heard much about recently: the capture, trial, and imprisonment of two Asian-American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, by North Korean authorities this past March.

As the elected president of the Korean American Students of Yale, I believe I speak for many college-age Korean- and Asian-Americans in denouncing not only North Korea’s travesty of a justice system, which condemned Laura and Euna to twelve years of “reform through labor” in a modern-day gulag, but also the lack of a firm reaction by the US government on behalf of two of its own citizens. This apparent unresponsiveness is particularly conspicuous in light of the likely devastating effect of the imprisonment on Laura’s ulcer, which requires immediate medical attention, and on Euna’s four-year-old daughter, who has now been without a mother for three months.

I believe that the US government must send a high-ranking official to Pyongyang to negotiate for Laura and Euna’s immediate release. As you already know, the history of Kim Jong-il’s puppet government is fraught with duplicity and diplomatic betrayal. For this reason, I applaud President Obama’s commitment to discontinuing the traditional policy of rewarding belligerence and provocation, and I understand the potential catch-22 behind censuring North Korea for its recent nuclear activity while sending a diplomat for release negotiations. However, the preservation of inalienable human rights is not, and should never be, a political issue. Our government has the moral obligation to do all that it can to free Laura and Euna from the clutches of a dictatorship that has displayed absolutely no interest in reforming its outdated and life-depriving practices.

This issue clearly concerns not only the thousands of Asian-Americans in your own district, but any American citizen who believes in the founding principles of this nation. I hope that you will do whatever is in your power to make Laura and Euna’s freedom a reality. Thank you for your consideration.

James B. Kim

Yale University
PO Box 201974
New Haven, CT 06520