Serious cracks are beginning to appear in the dam that keeps those 23 million malnourished imagineers bottled up in Kim il Sung's Magic Kingdom. So you would think that the United States would be eager to help turn the trickle of asylum-seekers into a flood that would wash away the old regime just the way East German banana shoppers overturned the DDR back in 1989.
But thanks to a cadre of hardcore policy inactivists at the State Department, the U.S. policy on North Korean refugees -- numbering more than 300,000 in China at the moment -- is inertia. Here's the official line as articulated by Richard Boucher at the daily briefing last week:
QUESTION: What should be the US policy to the North Korea refugees who are seeking asylum into the United States? Do you have any –
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure there are people who have been in that position. Most of the people that we've encountered have been going to South Korea. Any claim for refugee status is evaluated if the person is either in the United States or present at a US facility.
So basically all North Korean refugees are welcome to seek asylum in the United States once they get to the lobby of the State Department building in Washington, D.C.
The State Department is concerned that by admitting the truth that these refugees are actually escapees from the medievally repressive penitentiocracy called The Democratic Republic of Korea, our reliable ally, The People's Republic of China, will be inconvenienced by the tidal wave of huddled masses yearning to live free that would inevitably follow.
There are even some at State who would like the United Nations to declare that these escapees are "economic" rather than "political" refugees. The distinction is the difference between life and death. Economic refugees can be repatriated back to their jail cells and gas chambers without further ado. Political refugees need to be housed, fed and generally kept alive.
A better approach would be to call a spade a spade and declare anyone from North Korea lucky enough to find him or herself outside the prison walls eligible for political asylum and a brand new Nike track suit with their name embroidered on the back. Of course, each one should be interveiwed carefully in order to identify the inevitable North Korean spies -- they're the ones with the I ♥ Starving tattoos.
Word gets around pretty quick in a prison as any of you who have done serious time behind bars knows, and it wouldn't be long before the entire population of North Korea heads for the exits leaving behind The Dear Leader and a few cronies to sit around the People's Palace and watch reruns of Ice Station Zebra together.
The fact is, if everyone left Pyongyong tonight, no one notice the difference tomorrow morning.
That would leave one evil axial down and only two to go.
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