Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kim Jong Un - The Boy King

Kim Jong Un - The Boy King

There is very little that is widely known about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Some of what we know comes from diplomats and others who are from countries friendly with the North Koreans and there are some Westerners who have business relationships with the regime who have shared what they have seen. The rest of what we know is from smuggled out videos, diaries and the testimony of refugees who escaped and were not afraid to come forward with their stories.

What we do know paints the picture of a country where the people are indoctrinated from birth to believe that their leader is the smartest, most compassionate, wise and benevolent man on Earth – Essentially a god. They are convinced that it is only through their great leader’s unwavering bravery, strength of conviction and brilliant diplomatic and military prowess in the face of the evil United States aggressor that they enjoy the privilege of living in the great and wonderful utopia that is The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea!

It is never really explained in any detail what the evil United States is aggressing about. Much of their rhetoric harkens back to WWII and the 60’s cold war era. Modern day finger pointing is less specific but sanctions and so-called interference in the affairs of the DPRK are featured prominently. That hardly matters to those who are so thoroughly indoctrinated that nothing can convince them that the fantasy they have been fed is an illusion. These robots are so completely programmed that despite widespread famine, rundown infrastructure, empty buildings and factories, third world living conditions for most and a draconian Big Brother government that imprisons and executes ANY who question the illusion or fail to properly kowtow to the authoritarian regime, that they are incapable of assimilating the fact that what they have been taught all of their life is a lie. Those who do see the forest through the trees live with the real fear that they and their family and friends could all be arrested and shipped off to prison camps for re-education. Those who gather in secret with others of like-mind or in any way attempt to subvert or escape their oppressive way of life literally risk their lives and the lives of those they love to do so.

This mainly describes those who live in the urban areas, many of whom are in the military, the police or some other form of government employment while the rest work in government run businesses as there are very, very few independent employers in the DPRK. They owe their existence to Kim and his Oligarchy. For most it is in their best interest to choose to believe as their Great Leader would have them believe.

Those others, who can see through the illusion, see a bleak and decrepit country where the drones live a subsistence existence, spending the majority of their time trying to convince the watchers that they are true believers in the semi-divinity of the Great Leader. Forget to bow to his picture one time at work and it is likely it will be noted. Forget one more time and you can be sure you will be questioned. Accidently place something in front of the picture and you will face discipline. Actively resist and you and your family will disappear.

Those who do not live in the urban areas live an even bleaker and darker existence. With the lack of infrastructure and the open environs of the countryside it is more difficult for the regime to maintain the illusion they have cultivated in the minds of the people. Much of this is due to the fact that these people live in conditions that are abominable.

Famine and disease are rampant in the rural farm lands. The government often confiscates harvests and livestock that are needed to sustain families through the North’s brutal winters. Quite often entire villages starve or resort to cannibalism to survive as Kim and his cronies feast on the finest cuisine washed down with Courvoisier and Kristal. Enormous pageants put on by literally thousands of performers are performed for Kim and a dozen of his cronies while the rural farmers slave in their fields praying they can meet the government quotas and have enough left over to keep from starving.

Labor camps, some in Russia by a joint labor agreement, are common as are re-education camps, prison camps and death camps. The government encourages and rewards their people for spying on one another and reporting any “improper” behavior or “insufficient” deference to the Great Leader as well as many other “crimes”. This is effective, insuring that the people are too busy spying - or too paranoid about being spied on - to foment any kind of resistance. Besides, the majority are so fearful of the evil US aggressors or so thoroughly programmed that no matter how convincing the evidence, they will believe nothing but what they have been told to believe. It is frightening. It is also interesting to see that, just as with Nazi Germany, people can be made to act in ways that, in an objective context, are totally illogical, not to mention inhuman. From their position however, they lack the awareness to even question whether what they are doing makes any sense.

Today, there is great consternation regarding recent threats and basically insane remarks made by Kim, not to mention the military buildup and apparent preparations for war that are currently in progress.

For the most part Kim’s bluster can be ignored. It is for the benefit of his own people. Half of the DPRK’s propaganda is based on convincing the populace that the Great Leader is so perfect that he doesn’t even defecate and the other half is based on scaring the crap out of them over the evil American aggressors who, they have been indoctrinated to believe, want to take over the DPRK, rape their women and murder their children all so that the North and South will never unite. This, they are told, is something the US fears intensely because a united Korean peninsula guided by the awesome wisdom and military brilliance of the Great Leader would render the US powerless in the region. It seems that the great bully, America, is the only reason that the South hasn’t united with the North. In their minds it has nothing to do with the fact that the South is a vibrant, growing modern democracy with all the infrastructure and benefits of a sophisticated first world country and would benefit not a whit by anything North Korean.

Kim is painfully aware of all of this of course. But as long as he can keep his people thinking he is a god and preoccupied and terrified by the evil American aggressors, then he can suck down his Courvoisier in peace. This most recent rhetoric and drum beating serves his purposes well. It also plays an integral part in maintaining his leadership position in military matters – always a tenuous issue that few outside of the country fully grasp. In fact, it is quite probable that little Kim is less interested in the effect his words are having outside of the DPRK than he is about how his highest ranking military leadership respond to them. Though there is no doubt that Kim is also keeping in mind that a large influx of cash, say, in the form of ‘Humanitarian aid’ from the US (in return for toning down the rhetoric) would go a long way toward insuring that he remains the unquestioned Great Leader.

Of course any Humanitarian Aid would never reach those for whom it was intended. While the common people live a life of deprivation and drear, Kim and his cadre of generals, influential leaders, diplomats and advisors along with their entourages live a life that is very removed from the gray and dreary existence of the rest of the country. They live in opulent luxury with the finest amenities – a great many acquired out of country, since the North lacks the equipment and the skilled labor to produce items to the standards Kim and friends demand. They drink the finest booze and eat like kings and queens. In some countries where they are welcome, such as China, Russia and Iran they are coddled like royalty and their every whim and desire are satisfied. They live the lives of the ultra-rich in ease and comfort – a lifestyle that is becoming more expensive to maintain.

That, my friends, is why they cannot afford a war. It is highly unlikely that they would willingly give up all that luxury over anything less than an all-out invasion by their enemies. The problem is Kim Jung-Un is young and, reportedly, not very bright. He knows the US has no intention of invading his country. He also knows that the South thinks he’s a fool, but a dangerous fool. But, he has to maintain the narrative for his people.

This latest batch of rhetoric is just that. The problem is that, being inexperienced, Kim came on too strong and boasted himself into a corner. His lack of understanding of Western politics is also complicating things. He doesn’t quite get it that the West will tolerate a cyber-war, even look the other way when the DPRK shares nuclear technology with Iran and Syria. But the West cannot ignore a leader who threatens them with nuclear ICBM’s. He knows that when it comes to foreign policy that Obama is weak. It is certain he feels that he can use such strong language because, in his mind, Obama is unlikely to respond in any significant way and would be more likely to try to buy the North off. What he doesn’t realize is that when it comes to the threat of nuclear war, the people of this country will not tolerate weakness in their President, hence the B2 fly-overs, F22’s on station in the South and our anti-missile ships being moved to the area.

Kim Jong Un’s bellicosity and his youthful pride has led him to kiss off the Chinese who have tried to counsel Kim to use caution in his public statements and lately have resorted to angrily telling the young fool to back down on his rhetoric. Kim is too full of himself to back down however. That, and it is essential he save face, no matter the cost.

All that brings us to our current standoff: Kim knows that we know his nukes don’t work as well as he would like us to think and that it is extremely unlikely that he has managed to arm any ICBMs with them or that he has the capabilities to hit an actual target on the US mainland. He does, however have the ability to use medium range missiles to deliver dirty bombs or possibly a small nuclear device to targets such as Seoul and other strategic targets in the South as well as US military targets in the Asian Pacific.

All of this tells us a couple of things. First, the likelihood of North Korea launching an advanced nuclear strike on the US is unlikely, perhaps impossible – at this point. He may, and I stress may have a functioning nuclear device that is delivery system capable with which he can attack the South etc. But, many experts say even that is a stretch. The latest move by the US to postpone a missile test will be an interesting test of Kim and his intentions. At present, the North is planning a test launch of its own. My guess is that the North will have its test, and, having buffaloed us into postponing our own test, will call their test a victory, thereby saving face and de-escalating the situation and the rhetoric.

That seems the most likely outcome to me. There are a number of things that can change that scenario. First, the North’s test could fail, making Kim look like even more of a fool, and requiring him to engage in further aggressive language and bravado. Or, his test could be a mask for an actual attack – this is unlikely as US intel indicates that the launch is for the evaluation of a test vehicle and platform only. US intel has been questionable of late so one must take it for what its worth, nevertheless it seems logical in this case.

There are some other variables but they are based on what, at best, are well educated guesses. For instance it has been posited that Kim was forced into flexing his military “muscle” by a number of his old guard military advisors. Rumor has it his youth and his lack of interest in military matters, and matters of State in general, is causing conflict within his cabinet and within the entourage of powerful and influential individuals that surround Kim. There is word that he is trying to rally his people to his side in an outpouring of anti-American sentiment and pro-DPRK nationalistic fervor.

To the common citizen of the DPRK, Kim may be an all-powerful demi-god, but to his advisers and the other power elite around him he is just a boy-king. How much power does he really have? Is he a powerful young dictator or a puppet on a string pulled this way and that by the different powerful factions in his cabinet? It would appear that he has his own agenda and that is a factor that plays significantly into all of this as well - Breaking the bonds of the old guard and binding the people to him just as his father Kim Jong Il did.

Only one thing is certain: The next move is up to Kim.

Mat 24:6  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

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