From the Queens Tribune blog:
John Choe would rather not talk about North Korea.
“This issue is of very little relevance to District 20,” said Choe, responding to claims made last week by District Leader Julia Harrison, who said her sources were wary of Choe’s alleged connections to North Korea.
Choe did agree to a lengthy interview to dispel the rumors and past allegations that his role in founding a group called Nodutdol somehow branded him unpatriotic or worse. He made no secret of his advocacy for peace on the Korean peninsula and explained his positions on the issues that have gotten North Korea in headlines around the world.
Nodutdol sponsors trips by American Koreans to visit the country and the blog posts they write are overwhelmingly positive, describing the new found pride they feel in their heritage and the warm welcome they received. Nodutdol has been criticized for not presenting the negatives of North Korea, but Choe says that is not the purpose of the group. Instead, the group wants to foster cultural exchange and understanding, traits that Choe considers prerequisites for peace.
Choe said North Korea, like every nation, is entitled to test rockets for civilian purposes. When asked if he believe the rockets recently tested are for satellites or weapons, he said is not aware of any evidence one way or the other.
In regards to human rights violations, Choe criticized the former military government of South Korea, especially their National Security Law, which he said led to the “restricted free speech and freedom of conscience, [and] allowed the authorities to detain, torture and sometimes kill their political opponents whether they were professors, poetry, labor activists.”
“If a similar system is in place in North Korea, I would also oppose it,” said Choe.