RIP Kim Jong Il. In hell.

You absolutely must see the new Next Media Animation’s great video on Kim Jong Il’s passing. Go there now.

You should also see the Global Times’ special page on what China’s Foreign Minister calls “the unfortunate passing of Kim Jong Il.” They also print the reactions of Chinese netizens, my favorite of which makes a plea to Kim’s successor, “Don’t abuse the people by stripping them of democracy and imposing authoritarian rule.” Because, as we all know, the utopia of North Korea enjoyed a thriving democracy.

It’s not good to speak ill of the dead, but this is a glaring exception. Kim, I hope you enjoy the flames of hell for all eternity.

This is an open thread.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 38 Comments

Worth reflecting on for the larger pattern:

http://the-diplomat.com/2011/12/17/what-was-china%E2%80%99s-khmer-rouge-role/?all=true

December 20, 2011 @ 12:51 am | Comment

CCPs strategic fears have been always above the well being of the Korean people….by far. Lets see how this evolves in the coming years.

Could there be an eventual agreement between CCP, US an SK to reach an equilibium in the Korean peninsula to allow an evolution of the country to a more rational/humane situation?

North Korea… the last Albania on earth.

Always thought Albania would be the last stalinist deformed workers’ state. I lost that bet for several decades.
It was interesting to hear Albanian radio programs on the short waves.
Never managed to receive NK though.

December 20, 2011 @ 2:25 am | Comment

Without the original Chinese, I can only review the translated English and conclude you completely misunderstood that Chinese netizen’s comment. Here it is in full:

Shengshisixiang:” It would be a blessing for the North Korean people if the transition goes smoothly. If Kim Jong-un knows how to choose advisors who aim to serve the people, the blessing will be even bigger. Don’t abuse the people by stripping them of democracy and imposing authoritarian rule. Human history has proven that Western-style democracy is not necessarily the best. Rather, the proven method is to employ the right people to do the right thing, which will bring a blessing to ordinary people.”

The Chinese netizen’s main point is the hope that Kim Jong-il’s successor Kim Jong-un knows how to “choose advisors who aim to serve the people”, that it would be an “even bigger” blessing than a simple smooth transition of political power (as opposed to political and national chaos).

The line you misunderstood is not trying to say North Korea was a thriving democracy but rather that it is an abuse of the people to impose authoritarian (what Kim Jong-il did) rule instead of allowing democracy (which is to be aspired to).

It goes on to qualify that statement by saying “Western-style democracy is not necessarily the best”, which is a common argument that democracy is good, but it doesn’t have to be the type envisioned by “Western” democracies and activists. This is like “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, the belief that an ideal can exist with a certain flavor that works for a certain country, culture, or nation’s situation.

It follows this up with a fairly widespread belief by many Chinese that rule and governance still depends on the benevolence of the rulers and government, hence “the proven method is to employ the right people to do the right thing”. These sentiments should not be unfamiliar for anyone who has a cursory familiarity with Chinese culture and modes of thought. Whereas many Westerners make it a point that democracy inherently involves a distrust of government, the Chinese and many Asians in general tend to espouse more reliance on benevolent rulers and enlightened kings. We can argue about how that’s stupid, but knowing that enables us to accurately understand this Chinese netizen’s comment.

The comment is actually quite middle-of-the-road when read correctly. For actual obnoxious comments, see chinaSMACK’s post:

http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/stories/kim-jong-il-dead-chinese-netizen-reactions.html

December 20, 2011 @ 3:16 am | Comment

He’s going to burn for sure.

December 20, 2011 @ 3:17 am | Comment

deformed workers’ state leader hell…

December 20, 2011 @ 3:41 am | Comment

Exceptions can become a habit – hell, death penalty, etc. Some day, you might wish Mrs. Ochmonek hell, too. I don’t believe in another world, but if there was one, it should be a good idea to leave those internal (or external) affairs to those who rule the other side of the cupboard.

Kim Jong-il is dead, and that should be enough. Unfortunately, it may not make a big difference.

December 20, 2011 @ 5:29 am | Comment

Liked this in the Torygraph

“8.45pm A joke circulating Twitter this morning, following the deaths of the Czech democrat Havel, writer Christopher Hitchens and dictator Kim Jong-il:

I’d like to think God let Havel and Hitchens pick the third.”

:-D

In here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/8964926/Kim-Jong-il-North-Korean-leader-dies-aged-69-live.html

December 20, 2011 @ 5:35 am | Comment

Ecodelta: As it happens, I posted a shortwave recording of VoK this afternoon. Might take you back to the Albania days.

Btw, to sob while delivering eulogies is a tradition shared by China and North Korea – Jiang Zemin was almost as good at it when he eulogized Deng Xiaoping, as was the lady in black on Korean television.

December 20, 2011 @ 5:39 am | Comment

Hang on… the link: http://soundcloud.com/jr_s-soundfiles/voice-of-korea-kim-jong-il.

December 20, 2011 @ 5:40 am | Comment

Anon, the comment simply jumped out at me for saying “Don’t abuse the people by stripping them of democracy and imposing authoritarian rule.” As though the country has a democracy to strip out or leadership that is not authoritarian. Know what I mean?

December 20, 2011 @ 6:01 am | Comment

Whats with the Albania reference? Thought that was my preserve.

I simply don’t buy into all this mediaval public gnashing of teeth and garment renting over the death of the DL.

NK is one of the most heavily surveilled societies in the world. Your best friend or a relative could be an informer for one of the various (4 or 5 if I recall) security agencies, so this public choreagraphy of loss is just good cv insurance.

We are only getting carefully selected vision from Pyongyang and most of the cry babies appear to be well fed and clothed.

This says absolutely nothing about the frame of mind of the general populace outside the capital.

When routine life returns, this hard wired script about the loss of Dear Daddy will take a back seat to more nundane concerns like blackmarket trading, buying an updated sewing machine and general survival.

Cults can also die in the bum like mere mortals.

December 20, 2011 @ 6:20 am | Comment

Anon
I too read the comment in the GT and I somehow don’t think your translation of the English is any better than mine. From what I read, Democracy “with Chinese characteristics” is what everywhere else calls either a dictatorship (which this commentor basically alludes to “the proven method is to employ the right people to do the right thing” – a bit like the Italian technocrats now employed to get Italy out of debt) or it is authoritarianism (like the DDR was “democratic” or indeed like the DPRK is “democratic”).
The author of this piece is clearly completely in the dark at to what democracy is. The author will know demos (the people) and kratos (power) but in no way can this person link the two together to form a concept of government.

I personally feel that he or she was confused by North Korea’s official title…..

December 20, 2011 @ 8:04 am | Comment

No matter how much you disagree with a man, when he dies, it is a moral requirement to show your respect and condolence. That’s what distinguishes between men and beasts.

Here’s the official transcript of the Chinese Communist Party’s letter of condolence to the DPRK’s Communist Party, perhaps you can learn what it means to speak like humans.

Pyongyang

Central Committee of the DPRK Labour Party
Central Military Committee of the DPRK Labour Party
Military Defense Committee of the DPRK
Supreme People’s Congressional Committee of the DPRK
Cabinet of the DPRK:

It’s with shock and sadness that we learn of the unfortunate passing of the Chairman of the DPRK Labour Party, Committee leader of the Military Defense Commission, Supreme commander of the Armed Forces, Comerade Kim Jung Il. With a heavy and pained heart, we send our deepest condolences and sincerest regards to the entire people of the DPRK.

Comrade Kim Jung Il is an intimate friend of the Chinese. With great passion, he inherited and developed the traditional friendship forged by the older generation of revolutionaries of the two countries, and forcibly advanced the harmonious, neighborly, and coopoerative relationship of China and the DPRK. The Chinese Communist Party, government, as well as the people feel great pain for hte passing of Comerade Kim Jung Il. The Chinese people will forever commemorate him.

Though Comerade Kim Jung Il has left us, he forever lives in the hearts of the people of DPRK. We believe, the people of DPRK will inherit the legacy of Comrade Kim Jung Il, tightly unite around the DPRK’s Labour Party, turn sadness into strength under the leadership of Comrade Kim Jung Un, continue to advance on the path of creating a socialist strong nation and realize long-term peace on the Korean Peninsula.

China and DPRK have connected mountains and waters, shared fortunes and woes. Continued strengthing and development of China-DPRK’s traditional friendship and cooperation is the unwavering policy of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government. We believe, under mutual efforts, the Parties, government, and the people’s friendship will continue to grow and develop. The Chinese people forever stand together with the people of the DPRK!

Long Live Comrade Kim Jung Il!

December 20, 2011 @ 8:10 am | Comment

“No matter how much you disagree with a man, when he dies, it is a moral requirement to show your respect and condolence. That’s what distinguishes between men and beasts.”

Not really. You can polish a turd all you want, it’ll still be a turd.

December 20, 2011 @ 9:13 am | Comment

Further to the above, you know Kim II was full of shit as apparently he never defecated….

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/19/kim-jong-il-18-strange-facts_n_1157276.html?1324291006&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009&ref=uk

December 20, 2011 @ 9:25 am | Comment

Red Star, total nonsense. I was delighted to hear that Osama Bin Laden was killed, and Kim Jong Il had even more blood on his hands that OBL. I don’t think anyone is grieving for him, not even China’s leadership, which I always thought saw KJI as a huge pain in the ass. If there is a hell, he’s there now.

December 20, 2011 @ 9:29 am | Comment

Richard, I understand the potential misunderstand but I think it isn’t that hard to understand correctly when reading the comment in its entirety (at least as it is presented in English without the original Chinese to double-check, for those of us who can read Chinese). I know you’re approaching “stripping” as it can only be taken away if it was already there and concluding it is ridiculous because it wasn’t there but that understanding of that line just doesn’t fit with the rest of the comment. Without the original Chinese, we can’t determine if there should’ve been a more accurate translation but I think “stripping” is clearly more like “denying”.

There just isn’t anything else in that comment to corroborate the delusion that North Korea was some democratic paradise that is now in jeopardy of descending into authoritarianism you suggest in your post. As I said before, it’s really quite mundane as far as Chinese comments go. I too was expecting something more cherry-picked for towing some sort of ideological line but that just isn’t the case.

Mike, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say, especially who you are referring to when saying “the author”. I also didn’t translate anything. I just read the already translated Chinese netizen comment on Global Times and felt Richard misunderstood that line in that comment.

December 20, 2011 @ 4:01 pm | Comment

No matter how much you disagree with a man, when he dies, it is a moral requirement to show your respect and condolence. That’s what distinguishes between men and beasts.

There is no such moral requirement. There is a moral requirement to distinguish between good and bad, and to listen to ones conscience. A decent life may or may not include observation of good table manners, but it certainly doesn’t require respect or condolences for the Kim dynasty. Any respect beyond that for a man’s human rights needs to be earned.

December 20, 2011 @ 4:56 pm | Comment

TO JR,
exactly. Respect is earned, and certainly not a right. Unless Red Star is talking about being respectful of his physical remains, and to not desecrate a corpse. That I can agree with. But to require respect for the man (and to make it a moral requirement no less) is ridiculous and more than a little bit ironic.

December 20, 2011 @ 5:03 pm | Comment

Kim Jong Il found himself in an impossible situation in the 1990s, with the compound problems of the demise of the Soviet Union, and the floods of ‘biblical’ proportions. And of course Western sanctions. This caused tragic deaths from hunger in his country.

Kim Jong Il was at worst a well-intentioned, but perhaps luckless leader. What he did do however was maintain the independence of his country from US imperialism and its corporate jackals.

Tens of millions of children die of hunger every year. The blame lies with capitalism imperialism, the US is the leading capitalist imperialist state, and hence every one of its leaders is a mass murderer on a demonic scale.

The attitude of the likes of Madeleine Albright to non-white deaths in which she said the deaths of one million Iraqi children murderered by US imperialism was ‘worth it’ typifies the attitude of most Americans.

We should support North Korea because North Korea bravely maintains its independence in the face of US imperialism. In this sense North Korea represents freedom and dignity.

Alexander Dugins analysis is excellent and I highly recommend it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ob6C7DU10Sc

As Mr Dugin says, “if we want to be free and independent, if we want to retain our humanity and our sense of societal sense of dignity, then we must mobilise in defence of North Korea”

December 20, 2011 @ 5:24 pm | Comment

Given that his son is

A. under 30

and

B. only been offically deemed heir last year

This seems like a recipe for disastor.

December 20, 2011 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

Sycophants and Marxist minions like HongXing will also have a similarly low position in Hell, sucking up to the evil people they worshipped and excused in life. For all we know, though, Hell may even have standards that keep Kim Jong-il out.

December 20, 2011 @ 8:45 pm | Comment

As I said – Kim deserves no respect. But I find some current expressions of hatred for a dead man strange, and somewhat corybantic. Anyone on the receiving end of that clan has many reasons to hate all of them, and in their case, some hate may be essential to survive morally. But from outside, such strong feelings are something I can’t understand. What’s the standard to go by? Wouldn’t Mao, Mugabe, etc. burn in hell, too? Where to draw the line? Would Galtieri or Pinochet be in hell, or only in purgatory? For how many years? Would berlusconi have to burn his index finger on a cooking plate before rising to heaven? What a bout a mafia godfather? Only his scope would be smaller than Kim Jong-il’s – not his ambitions.

December 20, 2011 @ 8:56 pm | Comment

“Ding dong, the witch is dead, the wicked witch, the witch is dead, ding dong, the wicked witch is dead!”

December 20, 2011 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

Anon, okay, so it was a mundane comment. Why make a mountain out of a molehill. Repeat, he said he hopes the successor doesn’t strip away democracy or install authoritarianism. In North Korea. Case closed.

Doug, agreed.

JR, have you read the descriptions of North Koreans eating bark, scraping the moss off of rocks to make soup, while Kim was running weapons smuggling operations and living like a gangster? The prison camps, among the world’s worst? I agree, we need to be careful with whom we hate, but I do fell KJI is most deserving. I won’t say I hate him the way I hate Hitler, but I do think he’s burning in hell.

Yes, CPGBML, the horrors of North Korea are all the US’s fault, although we tried for years to negotiate with them. Blame everything on the US and capitalism. North Korea shouldn’t ever have existed, and it is there only because China, god bless its soul, came to its rescue. It is a rogue regime, and KJI would have terrorized its people no matter what. He had plenty of opportunities to join the global community but chose to make the DPRK a hermit state, a personality cult and the most brainwashed nation perhaps in the history of the earth, worse than Nazi Germany or Mao’s China. His notion of utopia caused the death of millions. If you think he was a decent chap who ran into some bad luck, fine. Even China had huge difficulties dealing with him; he was a classic madman.

Rolling, I suspect the military will have all the power. Whenever a strongman dies it’s a recipe for disaster, especially when no heir has been groomed for the job. I’m not sure how well groomed his son has been, and I guess we’ll all see.

December 20, 2011 @ 11:27 pm | Comment

The TL;DR verion of the PRC message of condolence excerpted above:

“It’s with shock and sadness that we learn of the unfortunate passing of the [worst dictator of the past two decades]“

As for the crying seen in the streets of Pyongyang yesterday, another man who passed recently had the right angle:

“The manager of a fruit and vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: ‘Workers of the world, unite!’ Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

……

That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and carrots. He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble. He could be reproached for not having the proper ‘decoration’ in his window; someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life ‘in harmony with society’, as they say.

……

Let us take note: if the greengrocer had been instructed to display the slogan, ‘I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient’, he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth.”

Am I happy that Kim is dead? No – his death changes nothing, at least not for the moment. I’m sure that if there is a hell he’s there, but this is between him and his maker – the existence of whom I am agnostic of.

I would be very happy, however, if Kim’s death were to lead to the final overthrow of his vile, corrupt, murdering regime – but there is no clear sign of this happening.

December 20, 2011 @ 11:58 pm | Comment

I guess I should also say that I am not happy about his death because it represents an escape from justice. One does not feel any satisfaction over hearing that a mass-murderer has died of natural causes in comfortable surroundings.

December 21, 2011 @ 12:27 am | Comment

Anon, even English comments need to be translated – everything written by a person and read by another undergoes a slight change of meaning. And I refer to the comment writer as author because that person authored the comment and I can’t tell if it was a man or woman, hence the gender neutral attribution.

And again, this shows that even English needs translation into English…. ;-)

As for my personal feelings on Kim II’s death – I have none. Certainly no respect as he didn’t earn any from me. Not admiration – North Korea isn’t anything to be proud about (I enjoy looking at that part of the world using Google Maps – funny how DPRK is a blank…). No sadness, no happiness, no nothing…..hence I reserve the right to ridicule him as much in death as I did in life.

December 21, 2011 @ 3:28 am | Comment

Richard
North Korea shouldn’t ever have existed, and it is there only because China, god bless its soul, came to its rescue.

Ignoring the part where the US signed it off to Stalin, and supplied Japan with steel, oil and timber while they were raping Korea. But lets not talk about that.

December 21, 2011 @ 2:31 pm | Comment

Richard, I explained the reasons why I thought you misunderstood that Chinese netizen’s comment and also readily acknowledged why you may have misunderstood. Lambasting a comment for what it isn’t saying could be interpreted as “making a mountain out of a molehill” as well. The comment and its implications was a significant part of your short post. I understand what you’re reacting against but you just used the wrong example and that proved to be a stumbling block in my empathizing with what you were communicating here. You work in PR, you understand the significance of that. Let’s be civil.

Mike, I agree everything written by someone may change meaning when read by another. There can be differences in intent and reception. Your use of the word “translation” in that sense confused me since I was previously using it as the literal translation of the Chinese netizen’s comment from Chinese to English. Now I understand that you mean comprehension or interpretation of statement.

When I asked about who you were referring to by “the author”, I was asking if you were referring to Richard or the Chinese netizen he excerpted. I don’t typically consider a short Weibo “comment” to be a “piece” as it is typically used to refer to an “article”. That part confused me.

I now understand you interpreted that Chinese netizen’s comment the same way as Richard did, and argue that the Chinese commenter is stupid enough to take “Democratic” People’s Republic of Korea literally. I still have to disagree as I feel there is sufficient information in that comment and sufficient context around the one sentence Richard excerpted to make sense of it. You are entitled to your read of it, but I just don’t find it persuasive and am offering my read in juxtaposition.

I also want to add that, in fact, all four of the Chinese netizen comments featured on that Global Times page are actually quite middle-of-the-road, and the first one actually pokes fun at the famed Korean anchorwoman. Like many foreigners, Chinese people find her presentation to be hilariously melodramatic. The third and fourth are both variations of the “let’s stay calm, wait, and see” sentiment. Not a single one of the four comments can be characterized as the delusional, brainwashed, propaganda-fueled hogwash that we’ve all come to expect from Global Times given some of their past editorials and editorializing.

December 21, 2011 @ 4:04 pm | Comment

China didn’t came to rescue NK, it juyst wanted to rescue itself, or thought so. Korean peninsula has important strategic importance to China. They perceived that it could be a bridgehead for a combined American/Kuomintang response to the PRC. Remember, it was the 50s and the PRC was still too young.

On the Stalin side, the plan was to bog down as many American resources in an Asian conflict to open a window of opportunity in Western Europe. IMHO almost succeded.

There is also the issue of MacArthut going beyond its mandate up to the Yalu river…. and miscalculating the Chinese readiness, size and response.

And in the middle of all this, the Korean people being ravaged by both sides traped in a chess game beyond their control.. and in the north side of the DMZ still are.

December 21, 2011 @ 4:39 pm | Comment

to lighten it up, guess your guys have seen the joke – “the last words of Kim to N Korea people are: stay hungry, stay foolish” …

December 21, 2011 @ 5:35 pm | Comment

Kim Jong-un well prepared for his task – Paul French

http://tinyurl.com/d5bww65

December 21, 2011 @ 6:57 pm | Comment

Anon, why are you making a mountain of a molehill. As I said, I found the commenters remark interesting, whether harsh or mild. I still find it fascinating. Can you move on?

Funny, bless.

Yes, Cookie, it’s all the US’s fault, we all know that. One more item on our list of sins and atrocities.

Eco, Paul French is a smart guy. I hope he’s right.

December 21, 2011 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

No matter how much you disagree with a man, when he dies, it is a moral requirement to show your respect and condolence. That’s what distinguishes between men and beasts.

Really? Then you shouldn’t have any right to scream and shout when Japanese politicians visit the Yasukuni shrine.

Geezz, CCP apologists are the true standard-bearers of self-contradictions and double standards.

December 22, 2011 @ 3:32 pm | Comment

Saw a study many years ago that traced the history of family controlled enterprises. Over 60% had severe troubles or failed at the third generation. One funny note was that of the five mafia families in New York, only one was run by a member of the family it was named for.

Be nice if that pattern developed here.

December 23, 2011 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

See Area 13′s take on this Hell idea. It’s just another glorious inspection tour. http://area13.undercoverpilgrim.com/?p=218

December 23, 2011 @ 10:58 pm | Comment

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