Democrats must stop dismissing diplomacy with North Korea

Nodutdol in Twitter
Header image of Nodutdol in Twitter.

By Minju Bae and Ju-Hyun Park

On September 11, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a screenshot of CNN’s headline ticker and highlighted “Trump Sides with Kim Jong Un,” assessing “That’s it. That’s the headline.” She continued, “Obviously [Former National Security Advisor John] Bolton leaving is good — it was an enormous mistake to appoint him in the first place. One doesn’t need to boost authoritarians to make the point.” And then, two minutes later, Rep. Ilhan Omar retweeted Ocasio-Cortez, “Trump sides with yet another dictator.”

To their credit, both congresswomen voted for House Resolution 152 (introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna) earlier this year, which calls for the formal end to the Korean War. However, it was disappointing but unsurprising to watch two of the most progressive members of Congress discuss Korea in this light. After all, the sentiments that Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Omar expressed are common among Democrats writ large. In the Democratic debate on September 12, presidential candidates Julián Castro and Sen. Kamala Harris made similar points.

The problem with reflexively dismissing U.S. diplomatic engagement with North Korea is that it depends on a narrative that is disconnected from facts. For more than 70 years, Koreans have lived with division and the horrific consequences of war. The last two years of Korean-led intergovernmental cooperation have laid the groundwork toward peace and reunification. U.S. progressives ought to be supportive of that process — it’s their obligation to history and morality. [...]

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Minju Bae is an activist, scholar and educator. Her work examines Asian and American diasporas and histories. Minju is a member of Nodutdol for Korean Community Development. Follow her on Twitter: @mnj_b.

Ju-Hyun Park is a genderqueer writer of the Korean diaspora. Their work has previously appeared in The Fader and Public Radio International. Ju-Hyun is a member of Nodutdol for Korean Community Development. Follow them on Twitter: @hermit_hwarang.
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