Mr. Jo is confident Park will keep up his campaign after his release. “While he was in North Korea, maybe God impressed him with what he can do after his release.”
As for the remarks attributed to Park by KCNA, Jo says, “maybe they were half his will – and half God’s will.”
No matter what, Jo and other campaigners for human rights in North Korea view Park as a hero for having dared to walk across the frozen Tumen River border with China and hand himself over to a North Korean guard.
Regardless of whether the dear leader, Mr. Kim, ever saw the letter he was carrying, no one doubts that Kim is fully aware of all that Park stands for – and carefully calculated how long to hold him.
“Maybe they hesitated at first on how to deal with him,” says Kwon Il-young, an editor at Daily NK, which often carries reports based on secret sources inside North Korea. “They may have watched to see how the American government approached them.”
In fact, word of Park’s impending release comes after a visit here by Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, who met with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Unification Minister Hyun In-taek. Mr. Campbell declared US-South Korean relations “have never been better” and “we are in lock step on what we should do” vis-a-vis North Korea.
The sum total of the talks, and comments by both Mr. Yu and Mr. Hyun, is that North Korea has to return to six-party talks, last held in Beijing in December 2008, as a prerequisite for separate talks on replacing the Korean War armistice with a peace treaty and lifting UN sanctions.