North Korea

Change North Koreans Can Believe In

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Tyrannical dictator, action star (Team America: World Police), and opera theorist Kim Jong Il has reportedly named number-three son his successor to lead the world's worst country. As of press time, it was not immediately clear what the twentysomething Kim Jong Un had done to warrant such punishment.

From an AP account:

Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea specialist at the independent Sejong Institute, said the reported choice of Jong Un seemed to be a feasible scenario.

"Jong Un has leadership (qualities) and a desire to grab power," Cheong told The Associated Press, adding that he thought he was the most qualified of the three sons to lead North Korea at a difficult time.

Other reports have Kim Jong Il's oldest son, Kim Jong Nam, taking over, at least until former Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli, fired after leading his team to a historic 0-16 record last year, could be interviewed for the position.

And all of these plans are predicated upon the disputed notion that Kim Jong Il, believed by at least himself to be semi-divine, will actually die, even after recent strokes.

Here's hoping that whatever eventually happens makes the North Koreans, really the most punished people on the planet, at least slightly better off. Reason on North Korea here.

Don't forget the Pynongyang remix of "Obama Kids: Sing for Change":

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  1. they are permenently and irreversibly fucked.

  2. I’m sure Soderbergh is getting a hagiographic script prepared as we speak in case the evil fucker dies suddenly. You’ve got to have something camera-ready.

    “How long will a man lie i’th’earth ere he rot?”

    Until next award season, apparently.

  3. …that he thought he was the most qualified of the three sons to lead North Korea at a difficult time.

    Compared to what? It’s North Korea.

  4. The Pyongyang remix is scary, funny and cogent. Don’t forget … our very own DearLeader will take the reins in mere days!

  5. It’s a video of kids singing in unison!

    You know where else kids sang in unison?

    Nazi Germany! Wake up, America!

  6. I’m sure Soderbergh is getting a hagiographic script prepared as we speak in case the evil fucker dies suddenly.

    Did you see it? From all reports, there was no hagiography going on; warts and all.

  7. Elemenope,

    No, and I have no desire to. But the first part ends with the fall of Batista and the second part of the movie will begin in Bolivia, conveniently after La Cabana and setting up Cuba.

    It’s the equivilent of a two part movie about Pinochet glossing over the entire time he was actually in power.

  8. Say what you will about Jong Un, but I’ve heard him speak, and he speaks well, very well. The guy can speak awesome. It’ll be a welcome change from Kim Jong. Kim Jong was semi retarded, Jong Un can speak. It’s refreshing at least.

  9. “Say what you will about Jong Un, but I’ve heard him speak, and he speaks well, very well.”

    You know who else speaks very well?

    Barack Obama! Wake up, America!

  10. No, and I have no desire to. But the first part ends with the fall of Batista and the second part of the movie will begin in Bolivia, conveniently after La Cabana and setting up Cuba.

    Apparently he is portrayed as an aloof, cold mercenary bastard (who also, you know, believed in revolution and stuff). Shit, it the fucking *trailer* he’s talking about executions being carried out by the regime he is helping to run.

    What more do you want?

  11. Elemenope,

    A movie about a human being with an ounce of decency? For example, though William Wilberforce was in many ways simply wrong about a lot of things (e.g., Indian independence, the need to treat newly freed slaves as children, supporting the British invasion of St. Domingue, etc.), he was at least pointing in the right direction re: slavery.

  12. Elemenope,

    Of course, in the U.S. people are free to make the movies they want to make, unlike the Cuba that Che imagined (and the one that actually came to pass).

  13. As of press time, it was not immediately clear what the twentysomething Kim Jong Un had done to warrant such punishment.

    Man, I love your posts, Nick. But what can I say, I’m so ronery.

  14. Soderbergh is a hack. That alone is all I need to know as to whether to watch his movies. A guy whose oeuvre consists of 90% recycled material is not worth considering.

  15. Vice Magazine goes to North Korea:

    http://www.vbs.tv/video.php?id=1438428757

    Surreal and occasionally wonderful. The karaoke party is quite something.

  16. Dave, if that was satire, then it was fantastic.

    If not, then… Well then it shows a puzzling level of familiarity with North Korean politics.

    I can’t tell anymore.

  17. I had to stop watching The Motorcycle Diaries for a similar reason. “Before he killed hundreds of people, he was a really great guy! Honest!” Bleh.

  18. As of press time, it was not immediately clear what the twentysomething Kim Jong Un had done to warrant such punishment.

    “Dip, dip, dip, my little ship… No, wait- start over….”

  19. What more do you want?

    Nothing. I was really only remarking on the relative star power of (soon to be) dead communists.

    But even The New York Times grumbles about Soderbergh leaving out the messy bits.

    “WE only won the war,” Commandante Ernesto Guevara says a couple of hours into the movie that bears his memorable nickname, “Che.” “The revolution begins now.”

    Not in this picture, though. Steven Soderbergh’s ambitious new film (opening Friday) consists of two parts (each running 131 minutes). The first is set in Cuba, where Guevara helped Fidel Castro overthrow the dictator Fulgencio Batista in a long guerrilla campaign that ended in December 1958; the second takes place in Bolivia, where Guevara went in 1966 to start a revolution that he hoped would spread throughout Latin America (he was Argentine by birth) and where he died a year later. What’s missing in the film is the very revolution whose beginning he has so solemnly announced.

    To glorify the revolutionary and then elide the results is disingenuous. But, of course, Soderbergh can make any sort of movie he wants. I just reserve the right to make fun of him in any way I please.

  20. BakedPenguin,

    Well, more to the point, before he advocated an ideology which led to the deaths of tens of millions of people in the 20th century Che was an alright guy…

    Cuba was spared a worse fate when he left Cuba; by that the USSR was somewhat less vicious and allying with them wasn’t as disastrous as an alliance and adoption of Maoist policies would have. Che was a Maoist. Probably half of Cuba would have starved to death if they had followed him.

  21. Moral absolutism about complicated events and people is nearly as exhausting as moral relativism about simple ones.

    And if you want to play the “this ideology killed people” game, there are none that don’t have blood dripping from their pages. Even democracy managed to kill Socrates.

  22. Even democracy managed to kill Socrates.

    “What are you doing?”

    “Self-realization. I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, ‘…I drank what?'”

  23. Too bad libertarians really don’t care for democracy if it’s simply majoritarian rule without individual liberty.

  24. I think the real question here is: Can Elemenope hammer a six-inch spike through a board with his penis?

    I say: YES, YES HE CAN!

  25. Elemenope,

    Moral absolutism about complicated events and people…

    Were actions of Stalin and Pol Pot in part a result of “complicated events and people?” Surely they were. And surely it is important to understand how that all came to fruition. Not quite sure how that excuses the actions of Pol Pot or Stalin or why I should view them sympathetically.

  26. Elemenope,

    Socrates’ arrogance was one of the prime culprit’s in his death.

  27. Elemenope,

    BTW, do you make similar statements about “complicated events and people” when you discuss the outgoing Bush administration?

  28. Not quite sure how that excuses the actions of Pol Pot or Stalin or why I should view them sympathetically.

    Who said anything about excuses or sympathy? What I’m saying is, just to take two examples, Che was instrumental in overthrowing the horrific Batista regime. That’s a story which is both interesting and important. Stalin’s leadership dragged Russia through WWII in such a way that probably guaranteed victory for the allies. That’s a story which is both interesting and important. If all we ever focus on are the stories that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside–plumbing the depths of history for “heroes”, whatever the fuck that is–we are not only going to be fed non-stop bullshit BUT ALSO we will miss important episodes of the historical record.

    But, no, it all has to be black or white, otherwise full-grown adults will get “the wrong idea” about this or that person/idea/event. Right? Free thought, hah!

  29. North Koreans are sooo fucked. There’s nothing like a hereditary evil dictatorship to ruin your life. The Kims make the butcherers of Tiananmen Square seem downright enlightened.

  30. Tyrannical dictator, action star (Team America: World Police), and opera theorist Kim Jong Il …

    You neglected Master of the links.

  31. Elemenope,

    You know, I have no idea who you are arguing with, but that claim was never made here in this discussion by me or anyone else as far as I can tell. You appear to be jumping to an unwarranted conclusion.

    Stalin’s leadership dragged Russia through WWII in such a way that probably guaranteed victory for the allies.

    That’s basically hagiography right there. The in many cases far more important leadership of others in the regime was nicely erased by Stalin and the myth of him as the great leader who single handedly saved mother Russia remains part of the discourse instead. So before you start accusing people of telling simple stories of black and white – and that appears to be what you are doing – maybe you ought to dig into the details of the subject yourself. Because the “leadership” of Stalin was not a black and white affair; he failed considerably as a wartime leader and his regime was saved by those under him a number of times. Check out who he exiles and/or murders and after WWII to see who some of those figures were.

  32. “What more do you want?”

    Horns, a tail and pitchfork, duh.

  33. Which brings up an interesting point:

    One of the things that you first have to realize about Stalin was his constant revision of the historical record. I’ve always imagined it would be difficult to study the guy due to that.

  34. Epi
    You didn’t like Solaris?

  35. Because the “leadership” of Stalin was not a black and white affair; he failed considerably as a wartime leader and his regime was saved by those under him a number of times. Check out who he exiles and/or murders and after WWII to see who some of those figures were.

    Part of the story is when he failed. Part of the story is when he succeeded. It intrigues me that most people are only ever interested in one half or the other. Same with pretty much any other figure, from Jesus of Nazareth to Mao Zedong.

    The emotional or ideological investment that people make gets bound up in the figures that are associated with those ideas and events, which help (most) people make sense and order out of the world and provide them with meaning. An attack on a figure is often either a righteous act or a personal affront, and pretty much everyone has at least one or two people from history that they unabashedly hate or will not abide criticism of. In this, nobody is immune; I certainly have mine.

    And while this is not an *explicit* argument that was made here, it lurks behind every complaint that a book or film isn’t “nice” enough or “mean” enough to some historical figure. The view of history from the present is *at best* kaleidoscopic, and no one telling of any tale will cover the essence of any event.

  36. MNG,

    The 1972 version or the novel? Those were both good. Though Stanis?aw Lem appears to have been something of an interesting jackass. A bit like Philip K. Dick.

  37. The in many cases far more important leadership of others in the regime was nicely erased by Stalin and the myth of him as the great leader who single handedly saved mother Russia remains part of the discourse instead.

    Uh, Zhukov, anyone?

    You didn’t like Solaris?

    The original is boring as shit, why watch a remake? And this is coming from someone who enjoyed Silent Running.

    Seriously, I have seen many Soderbergh films starting with Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and was not impressed with any of them, though SL&V was mildly interesting.

  38. I liked the novel and the recent film, haven’t seen the 1972 film.

    I don’t know much about Lem but would like to. How was he an interesting jackass?

  39. It occurs to me that The Aviator is a very libertarian movie. The hero is an entrepeneur who fights to make the world a better place through his innovative products and the bad guys are a rent-seeking corporation and their government toady.

    Do any of the libertarians here see it as such?

  40. Elemenope,

    …it lurks behind every complaint that a book or film isn’t “nice” enough or “mean” enough to some historical figure.

    It could be that that you are just reading that into those sort of comments. Of course, I’m not quite sure why saying that about a film isn’t a legitimate criticism. Particularly in a “message” film (a lot of which are cranked out each year).

  41. Seward —

    It’s a biopic. If it is a “message” film, the director saw fit to bury it. Sure, every text has messages, but either they are the point or they are tangential.

  42. “Do any of the libertarians here see it as such?”

    Yes, but I can’t say I thought it was a very good movie.

  43. Episiarch,

    There are whole cast of characters including Zhukov. More importantly though, Zhukov himself was for much of the time part of the official narrative of the propaganda machine.

    MNG,

    Oh, I have read that he lamented the idea of writing with monetary reimbursement in mind, etc. He attacked Western sci-fi from stem to stern for its commercialism. That sort of thing. The thing is that when the shit really hit the fan in Poland in the early 1980s he ran off to West Berlin, that bastion of commercialism.

  44. MNG,

    Anyone who writes like Lem has to be a pretty mercurial thinker. I expect that it would be at times annoying to talk to him because he would be so “out there”.

    Amazing writer though. Especially the Cyberiad.

  45. It could be that that you are just reading that into those sort of comments. Of course, I’m not quite sure why saying that about a film isn’t a legitimate criticism.

    No more than people read themselves into every text they consume. That’s my only point; it has nothing to do with whether it is a legitimate criticism…only that such criticisms are *always* situated in a point-of-view that is informed primarily by a person’s prior opinions and metaphysical predilections.

  46. You guys were right on according to Lem’s wikipedia page. But this little quote about what PKD thought of him I think is great:

    “Dick, however, considered Lem to be a composite committee operating on orders of the Communist party to gain control over public opinion, and wrote a letter to the FBI to that effect.”

    I like PKD, but that guy was off his f*cking rocker…

  47. Elemenope,

    Have you seen the film?

    MNG,

    If I am not mistaken that film does not address how much of a rent seeking bastard Howard Hughes was.

  48. Going to try to get the Cyberiad today.

  49. Elemenope,

    …only that such criticisms are *always* situated in a point-of-view that is informed primarily by a person’s prior opinions and metaphysical predilections.

    Those are good things IMHO. Our experiences, knowledge, etc. are what provide us with the insight we need to function, understand the world, etc.

  50. MNG,

    Dick had all sorts of bizarre notions. Ever see those “interviews” of him from the late 1970s and early 1980s?

  51. Those are good things IMHO. Our experiences, knowledge, etc. are what provide us with the insight we need to function, understand the world, etc.

    I agree. They are, quite literally, indispensable, as well as pragmatically functional. But we tend to undersell the downside of that possession, while overexalting its benefits, primarily because the down-sides of being subjective creatures are mostly hidden while the benefits are mostly apparent.

  52. No, but I’d love to. Are they on Youtube or something?

  53. Stanislaw Lem
    Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans
    Science Fiction Studies
    # 5 = Volume 2, Part 1 = March 1975

    And lay off poor old Phil. If you took fistfuls of speed everyday, you’d be paranoid as well.

  54. Elemenope,

    Well, not seen by the individual. I’d agree with that, and it has a very Smithian “theory of moral sentiments” to it. Or a Bastiat “seen and not seen” flavor. Which is why we should be skeptical concentrated government power making decisions outside of tried and true bounded areas. 🙂

  55. MNG,

    Yeah, I think so.

  56. Which is why we should be skeptical concentrated government power making decisions outside of tried and true bounded areas. 🙂

    Word. 🙂

  57. If the west would stop the insaine boycotts of North Korea they would be as modern as South Korea.

    The North really needs to take over. They are the true government of the people.

  58. Elemenope,

    Sometimes I wonder if I am too cynical. 🙂

  59. German Tour Guide: You vill find more on Germany’s contributions to ze arts in ze pamphlets ve have provided.
    Brian : Yeah, about your pamphlet… uh, I’m not seeing anything about German history between 1939 and 1945. There’s just a big gap.
    Tour guide: Everyone vas on vacation. On your left is Munich’s first city hall, erected in 15…
    Brian : Wait, what are you talking about? Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and…
    Tour Guide: We were invited. Punch vas served. Check vit Poland.
    Brian : You can’t just ignore those years. Thomas Mann fled to America because of Nazism’s stranglehold on Germany.
    Tour guide: Nope, nope. He left to manage a Dairy Queen.
    Brian : A Dairy Queen? That’s preposterous.
    Tour guide: I vill hear no more insinuations about the German people. Nothing bad happened. Sie werden sich hinsetzen. Sie werden ruhig sein. Sie werden nicht beleidigen Deutschland. You will sit down. You will shut up. You will not insult Germany. (Throws his hand up in a Hitler salute.)

  60. Sometimes I wonder if I am too cynical.

    I know I’m too optimistic. I have an irrational compulsion to find redemptive qualities in all people and patterns of thought, even though I know intellectually it is extremely unlikely that all people have the capacity for goodness, and equally unlikely that all philosophies have valuable content.

  61. If this isn’t a utopia, I don’t know what is:

    http://www.heritage.org/index/Country/NorthKorea

  62. I happen to know that Jong Un is a libertarian. He has plans to free his people. Or maybe I dreamed that?

    I’m simultaneously optimistic and pessimistic. I like to cover all of my bases.

  63. I’m simultaneously optimistic and pessimistic. I like to cover all of my bases.

    ProL is bimistic. And a vegisexual. And he likes the original Battlestar better than the remake.

  64. LurkerBold/Lefiti,

    Heratige? A LAUGH unbiased source?

  65. By the looks of that picture, Jong Il isn’t really that ronery:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7074447351811006615

  66. Elemenope,

    If you ever get too cynical listen to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

  67. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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