It’s not every day you become a witness to history and watch the passing of a cipher. And yet that is exactly what happened today. Kim Jong Il, much like the system he represented, expired into memory this morning. Typical of the fatuous news feeds relaying the death of this dynamic little man was this winner from Foreign Policy:
BEIJING — In an age of connection, it’s both refreshing and sobering to think that most North Koreans have probably heard Kim Jong Il’s voice only once. In 1992 he stood next to his father, then-President Kim Il Sung, and shouted the words “Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People’s Army!” And that was it. His father was a politician: Kim Il Sung kissed babies, gave speeches that lasted hours, and gave dozens, if not hundreds, of interviews to foreign journalists. But Kim Jong Il, who died on Saturday, Dec. 17, of a heart attack according to North Korean media, was a mystery to his people, nearly ubiquitous and distant at the same time. His picture hangs next to that of his father in office buildings and restaurants throughout North Korea, invariably placed so that he seems to be glaring down benevolently at you. His pudgy body beckons from paintings and pictures across Pyongyang. On a flight to North Korea in September, the flight attendant handed me an English-language magazine that showed a picture of Kim Jong Il casting his vote in a ballot box, a perfect shadow Photoshopped under his feet. A concert I reported on opened with a woman exalting Kim with a trembling voice. “See these flats?” my guide said from the bus window later on in the tour, pointing to apartment buildings rising out of the concrete emptiness that is Pyongyang. “Kim Jong Il gave these to his people.” She spoke about how he would take time from his busy schedule to tirelessly travel around the country, providing on-the-spot guidance and solving problems. But he wasn’t everywhere. Shin Dong Hyuk was born in a North Korean concentration camp and told me he “had no idea” who Kim Jong Il was until he escaped 22 years later. He says inmates never saw his picture.
Apparently Foreign Policy “had no idea” who Kim Jong Il was either. So it’s left to me, a solitary blogger – weakened by the flu no less – to praise and not bury Caesar. So while the international media focuses on his provocations, oppression, terror, and inhumanity, I’m instead “engaging” North Korea by offering them some catharsis with this, my humble labor of love, out of concern for its citizens, who have entered into a sort of depression with Lil’ Kim’s passing.
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Thus while North Koreans cry, or whatever, I will choose to remember the man in all his charisma and charm by going into the grooveyard of booty-shakin’, funktastic juche! Can you dig it!?
|From the Playa Archives’ Grooveyard!
A personal message from Kim Jong Il:
North Korean People’s Army Gets Down:
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via Pundit kitchen