Wednesday, December 9, 2009

KCNA: Carter praises Great Leader

Apparently the Aloha State is outside the reach of South Korea's National Security Law, so I am able to access and reprint news items from KCNA, the Korea Central News Agency, the mouthpiece for the Workers' Party in North Korea that rules the paradise above the DMZ. (Law-talking guys, if me doing this is going to get me in trouble when I'm back in the ROK, please let me know.)

It's a lot of stuff blaming the US or South Korea for whatever problem North Korea has caused, the latest doings and goings of the Dear Leader, but every now and then some adulation from some non-North Korean source is reprinted, with the zeal of VANK reporting on some mapmaker somewhere relabeling the Sea of Japan as the East Sea. Here's an example from today:
Pyongyang, December 6 (KCNA) -- The personality of President Kim Il Sung as a great man was highly praised by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Jimmy Carter recollected the time he was received by Kim Il Sung during his visit to the DPRK in 1994, when interviewed by the Thai newspaper "The Nation" on November 23.

He remembered President of the DPRK Kim Il Sung as a very outstanding great leader who was well versed in everything.

Having a very profound knowledge, Kim Il Sung knew almost everything, for example when a certain building was constructed and for what it was, he recalled, adding that he had a successful conversation with the President as he was simple and humble in his personality.
The President had been thoughtful of the north-south summit all the time until his demise, Carter said, expressing belief that there would be reconciliation between the north and the south of Korea.

He expressed hope that the present U.S. administration would have a direct dialogue with the DPRK.

The account of Jimmy Carter's interview was reported by Reuters and Apsara Broadcasting Service of Cambodia on November 24.

I spent some time trying to find this bit of news at the Reuters site, or from Apsara TV's site, but it's a no go. Like the family members of condemned criminals who request public execution for their loved ones, it may be a figment of the DPRK's imagination. And that's too bad, because I really would like to see what Jimmy Carter actually said to see how much it is being taken out of context.

It is interesting that Jimmy Carter is being praised by the North, largely in connection with his . Perhaps we can use that fact to our advantage, and turn the octogenarian politico into a Trojan horse an emissary of sorts, sending him to Pyongyang to meet the Dear Leader and slip a CIA-designed slow-working poison into his drink that will kill him a month later so that no one would even suspect that a mild-mannered, poetry-writing peanut farmer was behind it (just like he did with the Great Leader in 1994) convince him that denuclearization is the answer.

And speaking of propaganda, I was just now listening to yesterday's NPR News, the five-minute broadcast of the top stories of the day, and lo and behold, I was reminded that yesterday (December 7, locally) is Pearl Harbor Day:
[NPR newscaster] It was sixty-eight years ago today that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, prompting President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to ask Congress to declare war.

[FDR's voice from crackling audio of 1941 newsreel] Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy...

[NPR newscaster] The Japanese sank four US battleships and scores of planes. More than two thousand servicemen and women died. Hundreds more were wounded. This is NPR News from Washington."
There are two national holidays in South Korea that specifically relate to Japan's prolonged and brutal occupation of the country, Samilchŏl (March 1, Independence Day in the sense that independence was declared, if not achieved), and Liberation Day (August 15). Regular reminders of what Japan did. But when America's World War II experiences with Japan — the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor is still the must-see Oahu attraction for visitors and then there are these regular "news" stories of an event that happened nearly seven decades ago, I wonder if it's not so different from Korea.

This sentiment gets labeled "I blame Japan," but if you just describe modern Korean history (say, the century from the forced opening to the West to the end of the Korean War), then how can you accurately describe it so that Japan does not come off as a bad guy? I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone hate Japan (and the number of Koreans that do is far fewer than many expats realize, owing to the "vocal fringe" phenomenon, even in interpersonal communications), but it simply can't be done. Imperial Japan's culpability is not some "meme" that people started picking up on one day.

To be fair, South Korea's "blame Japan" could be far worse. Though people are quite clear on how forced political division in the latter half of the 1940s led to the Korean War and perpetual national division after that, there is usually little blame ascribed to the entity whose four-decade occupation of Korea precipitated that national division. Little but not none: Japan is knocked almost entirely for its own acts prior to 1945, or things connected to those events.

1 comment:

  1. I loathe Carter perhaps more than Kim Dae-jung.

    Well-intentioned but naive dimwits like Carter perhaps cause more suffering in the world than cynical, self-interested realpolitikers like Nixon and even DJ.


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