I'm Kim Jong-Il, maximum "Dear Leader" of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Although famously camera-shy, I've rocked quite a few looks in my tenure as the chief of all North Koreans—the dashing porker, the half-asleep diplomat, the tasteful centerpiece, and the devoted family man. But this is the look I like best: fit and trim in my Dr. Evil jumpsuit and Carrie Donovan glasses. (As you can see, regular sessions on a motorized boogey board in my artificial wave machine have really helped me keep off the pounds.)
Don't let looks deceive you, however. When I came to power in 1994, after the death of my father, "Great Leader" Kim Il-Sung (still president, and as vigorous in death as I am in life), rumors were flying about my dissolute lifestyle. My counterrevolutionary enemies gossiped about my fondness for Hennessy cognac and young comfort women. I've silenced all critics by continuing and expanding my dad's unique managerial style. North Korea's economy is the worst in Asia. Our nuclear weapons program has so far survived all western efforts (and my own promises) to dismantle it. My people are hungrier than ever. I've let it slip that the bizarre kidnapping of grade-school-age Japanese diction coaches in the 1970s and '80s may have been my idea (and gained extra PR points by apologizing for that one). You might even say that, like U.S. President George W. Bush, I've pulled a grown-up Prince Hal routine since taking power.
And things have gotten even better in the last week or so, as I and my colleagues in the Axis of Evil have been making Bush look less like Henry V and more like the Dauphin. It's not like we AOE leaders get together down at the Legion of Doom on a regular basis, but I'm about ready to throw a party. Iraq has reason to celebrate, having finally downed a US spy plane after years of effort. Iran has just inked a deal with Russia to speed up development of the $800 million Bushehr nuclear reactor project. And I've got two reasons to party: first the election of accomodationist candidate Roh Moo-hyun as president of South Korea and now additional proof of my continued ability to get the world in a tizzy every time I mention reactivating North Korea's nuclear program. So much for the theory that Bush picked the Axis of Evil membership by figuring three sad sack countries like ours would be easily managed. From where I'm sitting in my Pyongyang home (the official house, that is, not the party house), it looks like we've got an extra bumptious Axis, and fewer people than ever willing to join up with the Allies.
So even though this year's AOE New Years party will include such drips as secret whiskey drinker Saddam Hussein and sourpuss teetotaler Ayatollah Khamenei, I'll be knocking back extra rounds of Hennessy, celebrating my best week since I helped cause the 1997 famine.