Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where's Kim?

Keep an eye on the Land of the Morning Calm--things may not stay so calm there.

The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (neither democratic, nor a republic respectful of the rights of its people), better known as North Korea, is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the "communist" regime's establishment. I place the word communist in quotations because North Korea is no more communist than the old Soviet Union was. Confused? Let's start with a definition.

Websters defines communism as: A: a theory advocating elimination of private property; B: a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed

Marx and Lenin perverted the communist ideal and used the concept to cloak their consolidation of Russian political power into the hands of a select few totalitarians who ruled over every aspect of society and each citizen's actions within that society--not exactly the Utopian personal freedom theorized in the original communist concept. Their version's fraudulence was manifest in the walls built to keep people in the "worker's paradise."

When WWII ended in the summer of 1945, Russian forces occupied the northern half of the Korean peninsula--US forces, the southern half. Russia installed a puppet regime in the north under Kim Il Sung and we installed one under Syngman Rhee in the south. Mr. Kim proceeded to build a society based on a cult of personality that has become the most extreme example of such the world has ever known. Kim turned Korean society (the half he controlled) upside down. He took those people who were at the bottom rung of Korean society and placed them at the top. Among a people for whom the pecking order is EVERYTHING this was a brilliant, if most cynically sinister, ploy to ensure the loyalty of those entrusted with power around him. They knew that if Kim lost power, or if they lost Kim's trust, they would go back to the bottom of the ladder. The bottom of the ladder in a society already at the bottom of world societies is a very low position.

When Kim Il Sung died in 1994 he was succeeded in power by his son, Kim Jong Il. Kim, Sr. had groomed Kim, Jr. for two decades to assume power, and there was a nearly seamless transition of power and personality cult. Pictures of the two Kims were visible in any direction at any place in North Korea--now Kim, Jr.'s picture is omnipresent. And now, Kim, Jr. has not been seen in public recently (didn't even show up for the grand parades marking the regime's 60th anniversary)--fueling speculation regarding his health, and even his covered-up death.

The worry is that Kim, Jr. has no acceptable heir (his progeny are all world class losers) groomed for succession to the throne. The guy Kim most trusts, and who is the power behind the scenes is 87 years old.

So, we have a million-man army, enough missiles and artillery and chemical warheads (and a few nukes, most likely) to end even all cockroach life on earth, a population skating very close to the thin ice of starvation, and a potential power struggle among the current elites around an ailing, or dead, Kim Jong Il. If a civil war does erupt in the DPRK, there will be 60 years of pent up societal rage unleashed.

The Republic of Korea, the North's estranged and very rich brother to the south, would actually prefer that the DPRK continue the status quo. South Korea can't afford to assimilate the poor masses from the north. The East German example is instructive--(West) Germany is still trying to recover from taking on the responsibility for the bankrupt command economy of the "communist" East German regime, nearly two decades on. The North Korean economy makes the old miserably failing East German economy look robust in the extreme by comparison.

Ah, yes, but have no fear my hip-hop-brained friends, Joe Biden has plenty of foreign policy experience to keep Baby Barack out of trouble.

What a joke.
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