Killer headline at the Drudge Report; as Michael Totten writes, “This hasn’t yet been confirmed, but it’s not the sort of thing North Korean television would lie about if it’s still in the hands of the government.” Meanwhile at the Tatler, Claudia Rosett writes:
Believing anything that North Korean news reports is a dangerous game, but this one appears to be true: Kim Jong Il, monstrous ruler of North Korea, has died. Maybe yesterday. Maybe on a train.
Big question now, what happens next with the totalitarian regime that Kim inherited from his father, and was apparently trying to pass on to one of his sons? And will U.S. diplomats now rush in, as they did during North Korea’s last succession, in 1994, with aid and deals that help shore up the regime during the vulnerable stage of transition? Or will they do the right thing, and look for ways to finally bring down the horrific system which since the late 1940s has enslaved North Koreans and threatened the Free World?
At last, an opportunity for North Korea to enter the 19th century. But will they take it?
Update: Not surprisingly, lots of action on Twitter just now. Josh Trevino wins the Tweet of the Year award: “I’d like to think God let Havel and Hitchens pick the third.” Meanwhile, Pejman Yousefzadeh links to Pyongyang Rose’s video meltdown and quips, “I feast upon your tears:”
[Video moved to top of page to clear advertisement at right.]
How loyal will the military be to new supreme honcho Kim Jong-un? On the one hand, the old guard was reportedly fulsomely obsequious towards him when the regime started rolling him out last year as the heir apparent. Could be that they were acting that way simply to avoid being sent to Camp 22 by his pop if they didn’t, but it could also be that his pedigree as a Kim is enough to warrant absolute devotion. Remember, this is a country so deeply, insanely cultish in its worship of the leader that Kim Il-Sung — Kim Jong-Il’s father, and a man who’s been dead for nearly 20 years — is technically still president. (Hitchens famously described this more-Orwellian-than-Orwell arrangement as a “necrocracy.”) On the other hand, is the North Korean military really going to take orders from … this guy? C’mon.
South of the border, “This is S. Korean president Lee Myung-bak’s 70 birthday today. Surprise!” Chico Harlan of the Washington Post notes, in an endlessly retweeted item. “Best. Birthday Ever,” as Trevino adds.
Flashback: Christopher Hitchens on North Korea, a nation he dubbed “Worse than 1984,” back in 2005:
One tries to avoid cliché, and I did my best on a visit to this terrifying country in the year 2000, but George Orwell’s 1984was published at about the time that Kim Il Sung set up his system, and it really is as if he got hold of an early copy of the novel and used it as a blueprint. (“Hmmm … good book. Let’s see if we can make it work.”)
Actually, North Korea is rather worse than Orwell’s dystopia. There would be no way, in the capital city of Pyongyang, to wander off and get lost in the slums, let alone to rent an off-the-record love nest in a room over a shop. Everybody in the city has to be at home and in bed by curfew time, when all the lights go off (if they haven’t already failed). A recent nighttime photograph of the Korean peninsula from outer space shows something that no “free-world” propaganda could invent: a blaze of electric light all over the southern half, stopping exactly at the demilitarized zone and becoming an area of darkness in the north.
From ABC back in 2007, what it’s like to be “Born and Raised in a North Korean Prison Camp.”
Reminder: In the comments below, a reader praises CNN’s coverage of Kim Jong Il’s death. But I wonder what the network’s founder is thinking right now?
Update: Via Michael van Poppel of Breaking News Online, “North Koreans weeping hysterically over the death of Kim Jong-il.” Exit quote: “I will change sorrow into strength and courage and remain faithful to respected Comrade Kim Jong Un:”
Update: Ed Morrissey links to a 2010 video from CNN on Kim Jong Un; whose breathless tone dovetails rather well with Turner’s views above — and sounds like pro-German or Russian propaganda from the 1930s. Or just about any CNN report involving a totalitarian dictator (or Barack Obama) since the network’s founding:
(If video above doesn’t play, it’s also currently online here.)