[KS] North Korean Famine
Robert C. Provine
r.c.provine at durham.ac.uk
Fri Sep 4 14:12:59 EDT 1998
The following message came to Stephen Epstein and me yesterday, and we
have agreed that it is appropriate to post it to the korean-studies
r.c.provine at durham.ac.uk
Dear Dr. Provine,
I was talking to Ms. Yun Hwan Choi of University of Washington
about possibility of circulating for endorsement the attached letter
sent to President Clinton by Dr. Moon J. Pak for North Korea and Ms.
Choi suggested to me to contact you. Please take a moment to read the
letter. I am sending this to you hoping you support what is said in the
letter and announce it in your Korean Studies List. You might already
know, the food-situation in North Korea is very critical and we are
trying to help them in anyway.
Those who agree with the letter's recommendation to Mr Clinton with
regard to the food-aid to North Korea, and its supporting rationale, may
forward it to him with his/her note that they are in complete agreement
with the proposal and urge him to accept the recommendation and
implement it! President Clinton's FAX # at the White
House is;(202)456-6221 and His E-mail address is:
president at whitehouse.gov .
If you have any questions about the letter or concerns, please let me
moo-jae_pak at oclc.org
Voce: (614) 761-5036
P.S.: Dr. Pak is my older brother and was professor and Vice President
in charge of Health Sciences at Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan
and currently he is practicing internal medicine in Detroit area.
Mr. William Jefferson Clinton
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
August 12, 1998
Dear Mr. President;
I listened with great interest your weekly radio speech made to
the American public on Saturday, July 18, 1998. I understand it was
recorded the day before in Arkansas during your visit to that native
land of yours. In the speech you said that the U.S. government will
purchase 2.5 million tons of surplus wheat from the American farmers at
the cost of $250 million including the cost of transportation of it to
various parts of the world, where such commodities are needed
desperately by millions of people, who are on the verge of starvation.
Your announcement was of great personal interest to me because as a
member of an organization, called Christian Association for Medical
Mission (CAMM), I have just returned from my fourth medical mission
leading a team of Korean-American physicians to work in a hospital in
Pyongyang, North Korea (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea),
therefore, I have had fresh memories of people suffering from dire food
shortage in that country due to three consecutive years of flood and
drought. I must also say that I was deeply impressed by the gallant
efforts being made by the people and their government to cope with many
difficult problems in their effort to reach an agricultural
self-sufficiency in the near future.
The CAMM is an organization composed of approximately 220 Christian
physicians of Korean ancestry, headquartered near Detroit Michigan with
branch chapters in; Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Buffalo, Boston,
Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Seattle. The organization is in its eighth
year of operation and its singular purpose is to dedicate itself to the
evangelism of North Korea through medical assistance. We stand
absolutely clear of the political ideological conflict existing between
the two Koreas, thus we are respected and accepted uniquely by both
governments as a humanitarian, non-governmental entity. In our modest
way, we have managed to maintain a constant stream of medical assistance
of various kinds to Pyongyang in the past eight years.
According to the announcement made by Mr. Brian Atwood of the U.S.
Agency for International Development, a total of nine countries were
under consideration for receiving food donations from this project. The
purpose of this communication is to urge you to consider sending a major
part, if not all of this surplus wheat to North Korea. I am very much
aware of the intensity of famine existing in many other parts of the
can one forget the video- footage of starving African children being
followed by a group of expectant vultures! Nevertheless, I present
following arguments in support of my recommendation:
1. The World Food Programme of the United Nation has announced recently
that there is a very definite danger of seven million deaths due to
starvation in North Korea, a country with a total population of 27
million, hence fully a quarter of the total population is at risk. Based
on this analysis, the UN agency had appealed the international community
for the US$ 380 million to purchase 2.5 million tons of needed grain
this year. Therefore, we have here a very clearly defined urgent need
that can be effectively dealt with by delivery of the amount of the
American surplus wheat under consideration.
2. Unlike many other parts of the world where the food need has been
demonstrated, North Korea has a well developed distribution system with
effective management capabilities, thus the effect of the aid will be
demonstrated more clearly and dramatically.
3. Aside from humanitarian reason for the aid, there is an important and
unique geopolitical consideration that needs to be addressed in this
case, i.e. one can not overestimate the danger of having a major famine
and resulting unrest in this country, which would clearly be a threat to
the peace and security of the entire northeast Asia or of the whole
world, for that matter.
4. It goes without saying that the United States has a significant
measure of moral obligation for the turmoil in the Korean peninsula.
Aside from its historical involvement that led to the unfortunate
division of the country along the 38th parallel after World War II,
which in turn directly led to the Korean war and subsequently the
current dangerous stalemate, we have presently an armed force of 37,000
stationed in that country, therefore the prospect of a massive famine in
the Korean peninsula and resulting destabilization could represent a
serious direct threat to our national security.
5. North Korea is a country in need of change; it has to move out of its
ideological, political, diplomatic, economic and even cultural
isolation; it has to open its doors and join the parade of countries of
the world and take its rightful place among them that is deserving of,
and commensurate with their proud people's intelligence and heritage.
Much of the seemingly idiosyncratic and xenophobic behavior of its
government manifested in its international dealings in the past reflects
its insecurity stemming from the hostilities they must perceive to be
coming from the surrounding countries, including United States. I have
no doubt at all in predicting that a massive humanitarian food- aid from
us, in a scale such as recommended will have a tremendous positive
effect on their national psyche and we will emerge as their trusted
they need in their unavoidable process of peaceful national transition.
6. The size of the Korean-American population in this country has been
variously estimated to be 1.2 to 1.5 million. I understand that they
have been regarded as one of the most desirable model immigrants in the
country due to their diligence, intelligence, adherence to law, and
known fervor for education for its second generation. I can also tell
you that the group is currently being rapidly politicized. Your action
of a large scale humanitarian food- aid to North Korea, with resultant
stabilization and improvement of the relationship between the two
countries will be greatly applauded and fondly remembered by each and
every one of the
Moon J. Pak, M.D., Ph.D.
811 Oakwood Drive, Suite #201
Rochester, MI 48307-1362
(248)656-0177, FAX (248)656-0249,
e-Mail: moonpak at compuserve.com
cc. Senator Carl Levin
Senator Spencer Abrams
Dr. Young Mo Lee, President, CAMM
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