Next of Kim

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  I hate to interrupt your celebration of history, family and living through being molested by the TSA, but before you slip into a tryptophan-induced coma, I thought I’d tell you:

The evil dwarf who essentially owns North Korea is showing signs of ruining everyone’s Christmas.

The headline on the Drudge Report stated simply “It Begins.”  Keep in mind “It” began in 1950.  And while North Korea’s bombardment of the South Korean island of Yeonpyong earlier this week is hardly the only saber-rattling the world has seen from the Pyongyang freak show over the last 57 years, the noise is starting to bother the neighbors.

A little historical perspective is normally required when discussing the peculiarities of Korean peninsular politics:

  1. “Korean peninsular politics” involves pretty much every country with a financial interest, military presence or even vacation plans in the area.
  2. The Korean War was fought by proxy, then in person, then by proxy again by the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia and the Red Chinese — the three biggest heavyweights of the modern era.  Nobody “won.”  Tie ballgames don’t sit well.
  3. The Korean War never actually ended.  The cease-fire of 1953 was just that — a cease-fire.  No armistice treaty has ever been signed by the two primaries.
  4. One of the key players, Kim Jong-Il, is “Ed Schultz with a 9-million man army” crazy.
  5. North Korea has nuclear weapons, but not enough civil energy to keep a 40-watt light bulb burning.

I should probably devote more space to explaining the “Korean question.”  Thanks to the teachers’ unions, most Americans don’t know much more about Korea than “land of the Samsung flat screen.”  Given that most Americans are unlikely to get “where is your state?” right without three guesses and a cheat-sheet, I’m going to move on.

Kim Jong Il IS certifiably crazy.  Unfortunately, his daddy, Kim Il-Sung, created the kind of cult of personality in North Korean politics which gave George Orwell bad dreams and gave Stalin the sort of dreams you don’t want Mom finding out about.   As a result of the odd confluence of autocratic control, Chinese willingness to continue to throw billions at the Kim regime (which he spends on MiG fighter jets, enriched uranium and — evidently — ill-fitting track suits and lifts for his shoes) and the West having no stomach for standing up to communist wackjobs, Kim has become to Asian stability what a drunk guy with Parkinson’s is to a game of Jenga.

North Korea, as personified by Kim, has continually made clear its intentions:  Forcibly extend “Kim-ness” from Pyongyang to Pusan.  Given the paranoia displayed by all the Kims (Dad Il Sung, son Jong Il and science experiment Jong Un), and endemic to all autocrats, one could fairly presume that this nuclear-armed lunatic would likely try to spread his brand of crazy outside the asylum.

And that’s where the situation gets sticky.  Kim has assembled the world’s fourth-largest standing army and has the compunction of a hyperactive teenager.  North Korea’s only “friend” is Communist China, and even they have moments where Kim’s (pick your Kim) behavior seems unsettling.  Hardly surprising, given that the official biography of the current Kim (Jong-Il) is the tallest tale told since Virgil wrote the Aeneid to keep Augustus from sending him to meet Dante ahead of schedule. 

Meanwhile, the Russians have expressed the usual inscrutably measured tones of disapproval over Kim’s latest crimes.  The Japanese are understandably displeased with the idea of him shaking nukes at them from less than 200 miles away.  The South Koreans, who have fended off endless skirmishes, sabotage and subterfuge by their wayward neighbors, are both enraged and terrified.  And the United States, with nearly 40,000 troops in the demilitarized zone (the most heavily militarized real estate on the planet), must either create a solution or force one.

Peace — meaningful peace — seems unlikely.  Kim isn’t interested, unless the peace in question involves him keeping “Dear Leader” embroidered on his track suit.  In 1950, war nearly turned the entire peninsula into a parking lot.  After three years and nearly 3 million dead (including nearly 40,000 Americans), nothing changed.  There are a number of possible outcomes to the “North Korea finally jumps the nuclear shark” scenario; most of them involve Tokyo glowing in the dark.  At the very least, I’m going to stock up on ammunition and bottled water.

Far be it for me to suggest — but maybe the solution isn’t in bombs, but bullets.  One or two should suffice.  Bad diplomacy?  Sure.  But nobody can talk sense into the Kims.  Perhaps dear old daddy Kim (Il Sung) can explain it to them over some kimchee in the afterlife.

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.