kohenari asks: Just curious: in your Demjanjuk post, why did you say he's 91 over and over? What conclusion are your readers supposed to draw from the repetition?
» We say: We were trying to underline that, even though the sentence is so short, it’s effectively a death sentence for the man, who has had numerous health problems. He’s also in the awkward position of being a “free man” without a country to call his own during his appeal, and his advanced age only makes that issue worse for him (for example, he probably doesn’t have much in the way of family nearby). As a symbolic act, this case is important, but it’s not very practical because of his age. To put it simply, the act is so unspeakable that they’ve chosen to follow though with trying him, despite the fact that it’s impractical.
» The South says no dice: And for a very good reason, to boot. North Korea, for all the jokes westerners crack about its diminutive, insane leader, is no laughing matter for those who want out. Right now around 200,000 North Koreans are believed to be in concentration camps (testimony from a rare escapee here, it’s long and brutal but worth watching) worthy of the legacy of the term – medical experimentation, gas chambers, death by starvation, the whole lot. The threat of having one’s family sent to the camps (children born in the camps are forced to live their entire lives, however short, never knowing of the world outside) is the state’s major deterrent to defection. As such, dragging these four defectors in to confirm their defection to their families is essentially an elaborate, unspoken threat, along the lines of “come back, or they and their young will rot in prison for as long as they’re able to.” This is the sort of terrible dilemma that a nation is forced to make when up against a state under such villainous command.