The Corner

North Korea’s Gas Chambers

On Sunday the BBC broadcast a documentary about North Korea, featuring

testimony from defectors and refugees. They tell, among other things, about

the testing of poison gas on live subjects, including whole families. (In

NK, when you are arrested for a political “crime,” your whole family is

arrested, too. See Kang Chol-hwan’s book for details.)


Nordlinger brought this to my

attention. It’s a column by Anne Applebaum in today’s Washington Post.

As Anne says, it’s a pity it had to be the scandal-plagued BBC that

broadcast this stuff, as the allegations about torture and poison gas are

almost certainly true. Defector and refugee accounts generally are. We

first learned this in 1949, when Soviet defector Victor Kravchenko blew

the lid off Stalin’s gulag. A French communist newspaper pooh-poohed

Kravchenko’s claims, saying it had all been made up by the OSS (forerunner

of the CIA). Kravchenko sued, and won. It didn’t change any minds on the

Left, of course — nothing does THAT! I recall that when the Khmer Rouge

horrors first came out via refugee sources, the Left mocked it all –

“American propaganda.” Same with the Vietnamese Boat People of the late

1970s — “Drug lords and prostitutes,” my lefty friends told me. It never

ends. One day we shall go into the North Korean camps and see for

ourselves… but no sooner will that happen, of course, than the Left will

be telling us to “move on.”

Robert Conquest got it right. After years of research he published a book,

The Great Terror, about the horrors of

Stalin’s purges. The Left jeered at that, too — it was all made up, the

numbers were inflated, where was the evidence?, yada yada. After the USSR

fell, the files were opened, and it all turned out to be just as Conquest

had described it, his publisher re-issued The Great Terror. They asked the

author if he wanted to change the title to something else. Conquest: “How

about ‘I Told You So, You Popping Fools!’?”


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