Asking the right questions is more important than getting the right answers to wrong questions.1 Important questions are also more pertinent than stupid ones.2 The death of North Korea’s (NK) Head Poobah Kim Jong-il (KJi) has raised a number of questions.3
Before attempting to ask the right questions, it is important to think about the kind of man KJi was. He was one fucking crazy dude who knew how to truly enjoy the life of Head Hermit of the Hermit Kingdom.4 The following list5 is supposedly true with very few sources, but as a good friend said yesterday: anything anybody tells me about NK seems to be plausible, nothing would fucking surprise me.
– KJi’s birth was foretold by a swallow (yeah… a bird).
– KJi shot a 34 on a 72 hole golf course with a record five holes-in-one.
– KJi had giant rabbits imported from Germany in an attempt to alleviate NK’s food crisis.
– KJi demanded that every grain of rice served him be of the same color and size.
– KJi had two South Korean movie directors kidnapped because NK directors really sucked.
– KJi made personal staff take same painkillers he was given after falling off a horse.
– KJi was one of the world’s largest importers of Hennessy (NK wasn’t the largest importer, it was him).
– KJi liked to eat roasted donkey (which is better than roasted dog… in my book).
– KJi had NK state-run television edit World Cup games to show NK winning… every time.
– KJi did not shit, ever.
– KJi was the original Hamburgler by claiming, in 2004, that he invented the hamburger.
– KJi wrote six operas in two years.
– KJi had an entire city built for propaganda purposes; no one lives in this city.
I would be a more simple Head Hermit. My list of weirdness would be limited, and boring, compared KJi’s delightfully zaniness. Upon my death, websites and the media would have nothing to report other than Head Hermit Sublimemonkey of Muthafuckistan was addicted to blow and surrounded himself with ‘hos. But if you are in charge of every thing in your country and everyone is in either total awe or fear of you… weirdness would naturally come. I have to admit that I would even try roasted donkey.
Once one overcomes the oddity listed above, the important questions rise to the top. One question is “How is China reacting to and reporting KJi’s death?” The answer is fairly short.6 Basically, China is saddened over their “friend’s”7 death, and China may be inviting KJu up for an official visit soon.8 China needs and wants NK to be stable and doesn’t care who controls NK as long as China can heavily influence that controller. China’s influence in NK is so rampant that when one talks about US-NK relations… one is actually talking about how does US get China to influence NK.
In the end, it’s about ensuring that NK does not implode. China doesn’t want an NK implosion.9 The US and South Korea (SK) don’t want an implosion either. Nuclear weapons, tons of conventional weapons, malnourished millions, and ignorance adds up to a giant ball of shit that will splatter disgustingly all over the region.
Whether or not NK implodes and China’s influence is not the only factors in the NK question. Another issue is the possibilities of a Korean peninsula reunification and the costs that would incur. Studies have been conducted on possible reunification scenarios. A gradual shift to reunification is seen as a “multistage process in which economic and political union will be achieved through negotiations between North and South Korea.”10 Another two scenarios everyone hopes to avoid is implosion and war. Implosion, which was described earlier, is possible if there is a complete economic and political collapse and may result in the NK army assuming control of the state, or a collapse within which no one takes control following an internal conflict (such as KJu not being installed as Head Hermit).11 War is the final reunification scenario, and the only thing that is far more nightmarish than implosion. Reunification of the Korean peninsula through war is either the result of NK winning or SK winning. The military defeat of NK is ideally what SK and the US want… but again the ramifications of another Korean war is borderline unimaginable. What a reunified Korea following war looks like is probably what the Moon looks like… cratered and lifeless.
Ultimately, one has to ask how much a Korean reunification would cost. “Experts” estimate the range would be between $50 billion and $1.5 trillion. Arguably, this may be bullshit ballparking because German reunification was approximately $2 trillion. It’s hard to fathom that a Korean reunification would be cheaper unless one assumes that both South and Northern Koreans are willing to assume a standard of living below German standards. However, this may be the case, thus a cheaper reunification price tag may be reasonable.
In the end, most NK watchers are probably hoping that KJu is accepted as the new Head Hermit. China will attempt to cultivate this scenario and the US may even assist in this. Ultimately, no one wants millions of North Koreans pouring across any border in search of solace and no one left to guard the keys to the nukes and tanks. Before anyone has to react to this possible nightmare, someone needs to start asking the right questions.
1 Feel free to use that sentence anytime in any conversation. It will make you sound smart even if you aren’t. I think that is an original thought, but I may be mistaken. Regardless, that is one damn fine sentence.
2 Actually, this is misleading because there is no such thing as a stupid question, there are only stupid people.
3 I would like to assume I have the answers to all the questions, but alas I don’t… however, the important and serious questions will be addressed first.
4. “Hermit Kingdom” is defined as a pejorative term applied to any country or society which willfully walls itself off from the rest of the world. There could be a complete different conversation on whether or not NK walled itself off on purpose or felt compelled to do so due to international realities.
5 This is a link to the Mirror.co.uk, which means that some bad toothed and phone tapping journalist may have possibly made this shit up, but these “facts” have floated around for a number of years.
6 It is short because my googlifying skills are fairly limited… along with my attention span.
7 By “friend” I actually mean “crazy-ass little brother who lives in the basement and constantly pisses in the corner.”
8 This is more important than being saddened over KJi’s death.
9 An NK implosion means millions of hungry people who will start looking toward China.
10 Kim Hak-Joon, “Korean Reunification: A Seoul Perspective,” Korea Under Roh Tae-woo: Democratisation, Northern Policy and Inter-Korean Relations, James Cotton, ed., Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1993, p. 48.
11 Jonathan D. Pollack and Chung Min Lee, Preparing for Korean Unification: Scenarios and Implications, Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 1999, p. 33.