Home > Uncategorized > Kim Jong Il RIP?

Kim Jong Il RIP?

I’ve spent many hours staring at North Korea. Only earlier this year, I was dumbstruck once again to be in a neon-split Chinese city of traffic and business which looks out across the north Korean border to its partner city, where not a single light burns at night except the spotlight onthe statue of the Great Leader: https://joncannon.wordpress.com/tag/north-korea/.

I’ve even been there — http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n15/jon-cannon/diary — and it was the only country I’ve ever been to (and they included such feared and stereotyped nations as Iran, and indeed China itself) that didn’t prove to be quite different from its reputation when actually visited. But then, one doesn’t actually visit it: every moment is packaged, and moments of genuine human interaction are rare. One experiences a Stalinist/Cold War theme park, rather than a real country.

It’s hard to overstate this: I seriously wonder if any population in human history has been controlled and cut off to such an extent and for so long. The challenge, if it comes, will surely not come from any western (or even South Korean) idea of ‘democracy’ but from the portion of the North Korean ruling class who have visited (or who see from their bedroom windows) China. One can ignore or doublethink many things, but the living proof that one’s only ally in a post-Communist world is growing and one is not will be obvious to all. Whether NK can make this change is another question entirely.

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