So Kim Jung Il has died, purportedly, and I have no other choice but to write about it. Not really as a political analyst (okay not at all as a political analyst), but just as someone who kind of watches world events like sports, in a nihilistic sort of way.
Right around 10:20pm EST the Associated Press announced that North Korea said that Kim Jong-il was dead. ABC and the NYT quickly reported the story, saying that Korean Central TV reported: “Our great leader Comrade Kim Jong-il passed away at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 17.” 8:30am in North Korea translates to 6:30 pm EST on Friday.So what on Earth is going to happen to North Korea? Will the dictator’s death grip on the media continue? Kim Jong-il did some crazy things – Kijong-dong, for one, which was an entire empty city built in view of South Korea in the 50s to encourage defection. There was the claim that he was born under a double rainbow, that he scored 38 below par on his first golf game (and then promptly retired), and that he was a “worldwide fashion icon”. The idea of truth coming out of North Korea is roughly equivalent to tactful and thoughtful speech coming out of Rush Limbaugh. The whole event of Kim’s death and the transfer of power to Kim Jong-un is steeped in uncertainty. Heck, even the New York Times doesn’t know exactly how old Kim Jong-un is.
So the world is just kind of freaking out this morning. China’s pretty nervous. Everyone’s wondering what the long-oppressed people of North Korea are going to do – is the regime’s cult so ingrained in people’s heads that they will complacently move right on to Kim Jong-un as the most handsome and benevolent evil dictator ever? This event passing with no unrest in North Korea would be the most depressing thing ever.
Of course, this event causing violence between the North and South Koreas which ended up in someone (North Korea, the US…) using an atomic bomb would also be pretty depressing. The US, China, Japan, and Europe are all kind of staring at North Korea the way one would stare at a baby that just picked up a carving knife. North Korea test-fired missiles right before they announced Kim Jong-il’s death, so that’s not exciting at all. Stocks in China fell significantly. South Korea placed all of its military units on alert.
I have no parting comments. We’ll see what happens. While we wait, go to this hilarious Tumblr of Kim Jong-il looking at things for some comic relief.