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Politics

Kim Jong-il dead at 69

Anybody paying attention to the situation in the Koreas has been waiting for this moment and it has finally arrived: the Dear Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il is dead.

If any death should be met as a tragedy, there is very little indeed to commend this particular disaster. Presiding over a nation which has, year after year, become more isolated and starved in pursuit of his own ends, Jong-il is a tyrant for which we can find little sympathy.

And the real problem is that tyrants can be more dangerous in death than they were in life. Dictatorships, kingdoms and totalitarian regimes maintain themselves on a cult of personality, which is why The Dear Leader is such an important title for the leader of North Korea to hold. Dictatorial strong-men hold slightly-less strong men in check with the fear that everyone around them is as maniacally dedicated to the leader as they profess to be. But those strong men wouldn’t have gotten where they are if they didn’t believe that they, too, could be the next beloved leader.

Meanwhile, the people in totalitarian society are held in check by a more fearsome enemy: the rest of the world. Locked in isolation and force-fed propaganda, the people who might otherwise rise up are made to fear for the even worse life that awaits them outside the Dear Leader’s protection. This is why rattling sabers was so important to Kim Jong-il: when the rest of the world threatens sanctions, that is proof of the Dear Leader’s necessity.

Kim Jong-un is, by all accounts, neither as strong nor as willing as his father. We’re going to be reading a lot more about him in the next few weeks. Unlike Cuba, where the people and the leadership are slowly edging towards a return to their more democratic past, North Korea desperately needs a hard, decisive leader to avoid a meltdown. Sad, but true.

The question is: does North Korea turn on itself or the world in an attempt to maintain itself? These are not pleasant options.

N. Korea Says Dictator, Kim Jong-il, Dies – NYTimes.com.

You might find the following book interesting reading on the subject, too:

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.