Laura Ling on Sanctions on North Korea
By David Henderson
“We don’t like living without electricity and water,” she went on. “We know we are not a rich country. But it is the United States that has put sanctions on us and has deprived us of these things. What did we ever do to the United States?” Paris wasn’t the only person I’d spoken with who blamed the U.S. sanctions for North Korea’s lack of electricity. This was a common theme discussed by my other guards and Mr. Yee. To them, every blackout–and they happen multiple times a day–reminds them of the evil U.S. enemy that is trying to hold North Korea down. I could understand the immense pride the people of North Korea feel about their nuclear program, which in their eyes is a step toward becoming a self-sufficient, powerful nation.
This is from Laura Ling and Lisa Ling, Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home, which I posted about earlier this month. The section above is from Laura Ling, the one who was imprisoned. “Paris” is the name she coined for one of her captors.
Ms. Ling doesn’t ever address whether the U.S. sanctions were responsible for North Korea’s lack of electricity and water. My impression is that she doubts the claim, and is right to doubt it.
Nevertheless, it was disappointing not to see Ms. Ling address the harm the sanctions were doing. It was even more disappointing, given that she wrote her sections of the book while safely back in the United States, to see her not address “Paris’s” question: “What did we ever do to the United States?” The U.S. government is largely the aggressor here. The NK government is vicious in its treatment of U.S. prisoners and of its own people. But the NK government has done little to hurt the vast, vast majority of Americans, and much less than the U.S. government has done to hurt North Koreans.