Thursday, March 01, 2007

Kim Jong-Il: Lovable Troll?

Kim Jong-Il recently endeavored to make his successor a collective leadership rather than the hereditary passing on of the reins of North Korea.

Japan has recently launched a 4th spy satellite to keep an eye on North Korea.

North Korea has agreed to suspend its operations to develop nuclear arms, and South Korea has undertook to offer them aid.

South Korea is due to take over wartime operations control of its armed forces by March 15, 2012. Since the 1950's this control was under the United States Armed Forces' jurisdiction.

Documentaries have reported the stringent restrictions on interactions with foreigners in North Korea: that it is actually illegal to speak with foreigners. Such documentaries show hordes of people in the subway of Pyongyang passing the camera without looking up. How is this different from any other city in the world though? They then show people scrounging around in a field and comment on the widespread starvation in the country to spread the image of communism as impoverished. Yet these shots might just be of people gardening. Apparently, North Korea has a specially trained "elect few" who communicate with the outside world. If outsiders are only allowed to speak to the "elect few" who only speak in propaganda (of course), how does the rest of the world know about the quality of life for the average North Korean? It is also illegal in certain states in America to have oral sex, and in South Korea it is illegal to have an affair. Laws and their enforcement do not occupy a map with a scale of 1:1. How genuine is this portrayal of the country as a hermetically sealed dictatorship?

Is Korean unification on the horizon? Despite the suspicion with which the North is regarded, reports and surveys have revealed the general level of happiness in that country as higher than that in America. And while the cult of personality might mandate the idolization of Kim Jong Il, I have no doubt that many, many Koreans genuinely love and admire him. Can the Americans say the same of George Bush? I've never met an American who loved George Bush. This certainly does not mean they are not out there. But what does the difference between how these two leaders are regarded by their people say about the world? Perhaps hatred is cool. Perhaps loving your leaders is unfashionable. Perhaps the hegemony the United States wields derives its power more from hatred than Christian love. Many critics of Kim Jong Il say little of his actual actions and dwell more on his "troll"-like appearance. Who cares about what people do anymore, as long as they look cool, powerful, and strong doing it, right? HMMMMMMMMM!

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