Like many activities related to North Korea, the Sochi tour of this aging totalitarian functionary and his retinue (presumably at least one of them was also his minder) has its streak of dark comedy — grist for some Orwellian standup routine. But it’s not actually funny. It is dangerous, and tragic.
Dangerous, because Russia has a long record of abetting sanctions violations that benefit rogue states. It is worth asking whether Kim and his team were hoping to get more out of this Olympic tour than simply a chance to wave hi from Sochi to the folks back home, and look in on winter games featuring none of their own athletes.
Tragic for the obvious reason that the Korean people living under the jackboot of the Pyongyang regime deserve so much better. However obvious that is, it cannot be said enough — until Pyongyang’s totalitarian, missile-building, nuclear-testing and child-stunting-and-starving regime comes to an end. To see what life could be like for the people of North Korea, all you have to do is look to thriving and democratic South Korea, where the face right now of the Olympic team is not an aging envoy bound on pain of death to render absolute loyalty to a bloody-handed tyrant, but 24-year-old speed skater Lee Sang Hwa, who on Tuesday won gold in the ladies 500 meter race.