The AFP reports that North Korea’s government has warned South Korea it will retaliate with “unexpected consequences,” should the South display Christmas lights near the DMZ that divides the two Koreas. Apparently the North regards Christmas lights as propaganda, and is accusing the South of using them to try to spread Christianity to the North.
If that sounds like a case of whacky North Korean paranoia, it is anything but. So monstrous is Kim Jong Il’s regime, that Christmas lights present it with a genuine threat. Under the repression of Kim’s totalitarian system of Juche, North Korea is the heart of darkness — infamous for showing up on night-time satellite photos as an abrupt blank on the map, next to the bright lights of the South. It may well be that word of Christianity has been seeping into North Korea. But the deeper danger for Kim’s regime is the basic message that just across the DMZ are Koreans whose rival belief system, unlike Juche, allows its followers enough prosperity — including a wealth of electricity, and lightbulbs — so that they can celebrate during this darkest time of year by switching on yet more lights.
That’s not propaganda; it’s the truth; and it’s truth of a kind that could help bring down the Pyongyang regime. I can’t think of a more brilliant use for Christmas lights.