Dear Nodutdol family,
We hope you, your family and loved ones are safe and well.
Welcome to the first issue of our new general newsletter! We've decided to expand the scope of our previous COVID strike newsletter to include Nodutdol updates, roundups of Korean/reunification-related news, and features focusing on political education. This will be a monthly publication for the time being.
Though it's already been a few weeks since Chuseok (추석), we wanted to ground this issue in the themes and questions raised by it: as Koreans fighting for the just reunification of the peninsula, how do we honor not only our direct ancestors, but our revolutionary ancestors who dedicated their lives to the cause? And how do we celebrate the autumn harvest while our family in the north continues to suffer under brutal economic sanctions?
There are no easy answers to these questions; the only way forward is through conscious, dedicated, longterm struggle. In this issue, we hope to at least point the way by highlighting two excerpts from our new zine on sanctions titled Sanctions of Empire: 1) a primer on why sanctions are always an act of war, and 2) a personal Korean War story—two angles on the same devastating division rooted in US imperialism and capitalism.
As before, we’d love to use this space to highlight specific organizing and/or aid projects that Nodutdol members and family are participating in. If you’re receiving this email and want us to list your project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a 1-2 sentence description of your project, and the best way for someone to reach out and get involved.
With love and solidarity,
Nodutdol and the HaengJin team
Nodutdol News Roundup 📰
Over the past few years, Nodutdol has grown and adapted. The organizing committee (OC) is looking at changing leadership and has added three new members this year. We’ve been focusing on more frequent and regular political education, revisiting what it means to be a member, and other internal matters.
We worked with Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK) on this video detailing the struggles of Korean Atomic Bomb Victims to receive medical treatment and reparations from the governments of the US, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Lift the unjust travel ban on our member Juyeon Rhee! Please sign this petition to urge the Moon Jae-in administration to lift the unjust travel ban and allow her to visit her homeland.
As Koreans in the diaspora, we want to highlight that the South Korean National Pension Fund has teamed up with KKR to fund the Coastal Gas Link pipeline. We need massive pressure from the peninsula and the diaspora to #StopCoastalGas. Our fight against colonialism is global! Action steps here.
We recently organized some political education sessions around the question of North Korea and human rights. We highly recommend watching the documentary “Loyal Citizens of Pyongyang in Seoul” which investigates the system of manufacturing spies and defector testimonies by the Republic of Korea and the West.
This Month In History 🗝️
Korea News Roundup 🇰🇵🇰🇷
DPRK apologizes after killing a ROK fishery official who arrived on DPRK shores. The still ongoing, unended Korean War—symbolized by the heavily militarized DMZ—creates conditions that allow for this kind of unfortunate killing.
[TW - sexual abuse]: North Korean defector says abuse by South Korean spies broke her trust and her dream
[TW - self-harm]: Self-harm among Koreans rose 36% in H1
Proletariat Teddy Bears in South Korea
Nodutdol Zine: 제국의 제재 Sanctions of Empire
When people learn my parents are from Korea, they always ask, “South Korea? Or North Korea?” I always answer, “When my parents were born, there was only one Corea, and it had existed for more than 5,000 years…”
—Rose M. Kim, “Korean War Story” (from our zine)
As calls for police and prison abolition are entering mainstream debates amid the sustained uprising for Black liberation, we believe in working towards an international abolitionist framework—one that necessarily includes the end of sanctions.
Building on Nodutdol’s work with the Sanctions Kill coalition, our zine Sanctions of Empire features an overview of US and UN economic restrictions against North Korea, charts their imperialist rhetoric, and excavates the memories of displacement that the Korean War has left on the family of one Nodutdol member.
WHAT ARE SANCTIONS?
Casting North Korea as an evil and hostile threat justifies US intervention in peninsular politics.
North Koreans have lived in a regime of restrictions, embargoes, and scarcities, imposed and enforced by a variety of sanctions from the United States and the United Nations since 1950. These sanctions once targeted the military and elite, but in 2016 sanctions became sectoral, targeting entire industries. But any and all sanctions always affect civilians. From North Korea to Cuba to Iran to Venezuela, sanctions kill.
Economic sanctions are punitive measures taken by countries against governments, entities, or individuals by commercial and financial means.
According to Sanctions Kill campaign, the US has 8,000 active sanctions measures that impact people in 39 countries, and up to one third of the world’s population.
Although often framed as responses to human rights or international security concerns, sanctions are better described as geopolitical tools.
In 2018, 3,968 people in the DPRK, who were mostly children under the age of 5, died as a result of shortages and delays to UN aid programs caused by sanctions. Read more from the Korea Peace Now report.
The US professes concerns for human rights in its implementation of sanctions—yet, the tremendous death toll of sanctions themselves reveal these claims to be little more than an alibi for the US’ true aims: unfettered access to global markets and resources, underpinned by planetary militarization and occupation.
Sanctions significantly degrade women’s economic status and threaten their social rights, particularly in developing countries. While men also suffer economically under sanctions, women are typically already at an economic disadvantage apart from sanctions due to pre-existing patterns of discrimination, and thus tend to experience disproportional effects as a result of foreign economic restrictions imposed on their countries.
KOREAN WAR STORY
by Rose M. Kim:
In early March, I was part of a small Korea Peace Now delegation scheduled to meet with the district director for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx). We planned to ask AOC to speak out publicly on ending the Korean War and also to join the women’s peace action then being organized to take place at the DMZ (now postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic).
Participants were asked if they had any personal stories related to the war that they could tell at the meeting. I spoke about my father, who was born in Kaesung and forced as a young man to leave his mother and brother, ultimately never being able to see them again. I was asked to share my story. I knew our time was limited, so I streamlined the details to be as concise as possible.
Somehow, through that process, images sprung naturally to mind and a first draft came quickly. This is the first graphic story I’ve ever written. Afterwards, I thought about how drawings were a way to bridge historical silences and unknowns, the language gap, and feelings I was never able to express to my parents when they were alive.
Nodutdol is a group of diasporic Koreans and comrades. We mobilize our membership to advance peace, decolonization, and self-determination in Korea and Turtle Island/North America. We use political education, build collective action, and practice principled solidarity to achieve our mission.