North Korea, and the autonomy of violence

jang-song-thaekI am extremely concerned by the events in North Korea, and the recent execution of Jang Song-thaek. I have written before about the brutally appalling and yet comic opera absurdity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), here, here, here,and here.

It is worth reflecting upon how, once unleashed in any given society, the entry threshold for political violence becomes lower and lower. Continue reading

Kim Jong-un and the purge

After decades of loyal service to the Kim dynasty, “despicable human scum … who was worse than a dog” was probably not the epitaph Chang Song-thaek hoped for. But the very public and very final defenestration of the “traitor for all ages” says a couple of things I think professional Kimologists and the BBC are missing.

The idea the “Great Comrade”, or whatever absurd title he’s using this week, offed his uncle to secure his power is true. But making that kind of observation is a bit like saying Lehman Brothers collapsed because it ran out of money. It doesn’t grasp the underlying dynamics, the shifting factions and patterning of influence cloying for favour and office in Kim the Younger’s new regime. Continue reading

North Korea and the drums of war

There are two sides to every crisis, and the dangerous situation developing on the Korean Peninsula is no different. Unfortunately, the commentary coming out of the BBC sets the tone for the British press. It’s the idea that the collective senility that grips the North Korean regime (and what we all like to have a laugh about, including this blog) explains why Kim Jong-un is banging the drum of war. The South, the USA, they’re so much innocent bunnies caught in the DPRK’s nuclear-tipped headlights. Kim is simply a mad man holding the world to ransom simply because he can. Continue reading