So Kim Jong-il has kicked the bucket, and I can’t say I’m happy about it.
Oh, I suppose I’m happy for the starving North Koreans. Except I’ve never known any North Koreans, so who knows if they really are starving? (I learned my lesson about trusting US government propaganda after carefully reviewing the cases of Japan, Germany, Italy, Russia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.) I guess it is good for democracy whenever a dictator dies, although there isn’t much difference in governments’ form anymore, and certainly not in their function. There is the probability that whoever ascends the throne will be corrupted enough that this “lucrative emerging market” will henceforth be safe to sell Coca-Cola and Levi’s Blue Jeans and we can make lots more money.
Even with such benefits, I’m sad to see the old boy go. It isn’t often one comes across such an exceptional human being.
Kimmy had a supernatural birth. No fooling. Alongside a sacred mountain, just off a secret military base, Dear Leader was born precisely where every would-be strongman ought to be—a log cabin. (Apparently they still have those in North Korea.)
On that fabled night there was not only a singularly bright star in the heavens, but a double rainbow appeared over the mountain. Moreover, suddenly the season changed from harsh winter to tender spring. Dear Leader did all that while still in swaddling clothes.
Having no time to waste on his path to glory, Dear Leader was walking by age three…no wait, make that three weeks according to official North Korean records! He was orating five weeks afterward, presumably to inquire why he had been so neglected during his infanthood that no one was helping him walk by his first week. Yet Dear Leader needed no “help” with anything. He single-handedly penned the destiny of his people in manifesto form at the ripe old age of two.
The next few years are a sort of blur in Kim’s life. Possibly this is because at one time he was the world’s largest single purchaser of Hennessy cognac. Reportedly Dear Leader dropped somewhere in the realm of $800,000 a year on keeping the party alive (average North Korean annual wage: approximately $1,900).
With all of that liquor to lubricate his mental faculties Dear Leader went on to invent the microwave, the radial tire, and holograms. He seems to have been working on some sort of virtual-reality pizza-delivery system, although I could be wrong.
With all of this heavy lifting a man (er, man-god) needs to relax. What better way than golf? The gentleman’s pastime! Upon learning the game, Dear Leader scored a 38 his first time out, though he was probably being modest by upping his actual score. This was on an 18-hole green and he made over a half-dozen hole-in-ones. In addition to being the best golfer of all time (he shaved 25 strokes off the previous World Record), Dear Leader was also a master equestrian, championship sprinter, and Olympic-caliber swimmer. So there.
Yet none of this should give the impression Kim wasn’t as great a thinker as Rodin ever thought of chiseling. By the time he graduated from college he had authored over 1,500 books. Presumably these tomes were in Korean, a language so notoriously difficult to learn that even the Chinese avoid it.
Kim also had a musical bent and whipped up six operas. According to the Official State Biography these were “better than any in the history of music.” What a laugh! As if music even had a history before Dear Leader came along to illuminate it!
Never one to mooch the spotlight, Kim mentored talent wherever he could find it. Sometimes he found it in North Korea, sometimes not. Can Dear Leader be blamed for anything but overzealous passion when he kidnapped South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok to craft a film? Apparently Dear Leader’s vision was for a Godzilla of his very own to make his people proud. (He could just as well have claimed credit for the original version since the Japanese have been trying to deny their responsibility for the past fifty-seven years.)
Kim also had time to set the pace in other fields, notably fashion. While creating a Nehru-type trend with his matching leisure suits and Jackie Kennedy-esque goggle shades, Dear Leader refused to settle for style over substance. Oh no, not Kim.
To beautify the Korean capital he helped all of the handicapped and height-challenged denizens. Evidently he announced a wonder drug to make people taller, administered to anyone who applied in person. When they showed up, Dear Leader sent his diminutive minions off to uninhabited islands so that their genes were prevented from mixing with the “quality stock” of slightly taller North Koreans. That was ol’ DL for you—always thinking of the greater good.
I really will miss this fellow. Almost all politicians are corrupt, so it was nice to see someone who could still do it with panache. Yes, the North Koreans have been in dire straits for years. Yet at least they are not being systematically dispossessed from their homeland and invaded by inassimilables who hate them and their culture. Plus, their dictatorship had good parades.
For those who would point out that this essay’s title is the word for “goodbye” in Japanese not Korean, you simply don’t get it. Dear Leader would have understood…after all, he reportedly spoke 12 languages.
So farewell, Kim. You might have been a bastard, but you were my kind of bastard—one who always made me laugh. The ones we have here only make me weep.
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