The United States should help North Koreans defeat their oppressor Kim Jong Un — but with words, not with bombs, a high-ranking North Korean defector told congress on Wednesday.
U.S. lawmakers must start a low-tech propaganda campaign inside hermetically sealed North Korea rather than attacking the country militarily, Thae Yong Ho, a former North Korean ambassador who escaped to South Korea in 2016, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We cannot change the policy of terror of the Kim Jong Un regime. But we can educate North Korean population to stand up by disseminating outside information,” Ho said. “The U.S. is spending billions of dollars to cope with the military threat. And yet how much does the U.S. spend each year on information activities involving North Korea in a year? Unfortunately, it may be tiny fraction.”
President Donald Trump and Kim have threatened to attack in recent months, stirring fears that a nuclear war could break out. Ho’s "info war" is a departure from a traditional military approach, but experts say it could work if the U.S. can understand what it's truly up against: a rogue state impenetrable by modern means.
“It is possible to change North Korean hearts and minds, but it requires a focused effort by South Korea because the language is very important,” Ariel Cohen, an international security expert at the Atlantic Council, told Newsweek. “(We need to) differentiate between the elites that have access to the global internet and if there is a way to penetrate the North Koreans through radio.”
Smuggling literature into the country could be another way to disseminate information to North Koreans, Cohen suggested.
Ho is the highest-ranking North Korean official to escape North Korea in decades, and he has provided the U.S. with valuable information about the North Korean regime. For example, Ho argues that Kim Jong Un lacks legitimacy among North Korean officials because he spent a significant part of his childhood in Switzerland.
Ho visited Washington for the first time as President Trump prepares to discuss the ongoing conflict with North Korea with high-level officials during his first trip to Asia.
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