For a farm boy from southeast Kentucky, the odds of dining with Bill Clinton are about as good as the chances of feasting with Kim Jong-Il. But in the summer of 2009, David Straub, director of the Korean Studies Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), did both as part of a small delegation sent to secure the release of two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were held in North Korea for allegedly entering the country illegally.
“Have you ever had snakemeat? Ratmeat? Have you ever stolen anything?” Yosep Baek, a former North Korean soldier, asked a packed Old Union Clubhouse Ballroom on Friday evening. “If you’re part of the North Korean army, you can’t live without those things.”
Guang-il Jung’s was just one of many tales of human rights abuses discussed at a conference held over the weekend at Stanford on “The North Korean Crisis: Human Stories & Taking Action.”