North Korea – or to give it it’s full title: The Democratic* People’s Republic of Korea, cuts an estranged figure in today’s global community. Priding itself on having a point of difference.
A defiant, living museum of Marxism-Leninism ideology flaunting every communist cliché going and increasingly defined by the endless sabre rattling of its babyfaced, barnet pioneering Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s ever increasing isolation and berated human rights record just seems to fuel its resolve.
Such constant aggressive posturing and the stage managed images of Jong-Un applauding yet another ballistic test flanked by petrified military types furiously scribbling into note books grimly mask a people besieged by famine as they battle the most punitive sanctions the UN’s ‘dealing with despots handbook’ has to offer.
As one international affairs think tank commentator wryly put it, Jong Un’s reign symbolises “The geopolitical equivalent of kids stoning the windows of a more respected neighbour and then running off”.
Not that the current leader is a one off either, this is dynastic belligerence dating back to Kim II-Sung of deity like gravity and influence.
Known as The Father of ‘modern’ socialist North Korea, Supreme leader Sung furiously curated a brutal, military obsessed socialist state and showcased its ‘success’ via numerous oversized murals of his subjects lost in deranged rapture.
On state TV, excruciatingly choreographed news reports show hordes of North Koreans in awe of their great leader(s) – some even passing out in his presence to provide even more sycophantic propaganda.
Folks listen when you tell them what they DON’T want to hear.
Truth is, when so you’re this politically and ideologically toxic to so many, one (or is it ‘un’?) is still compelled to keep up appearances on the global stage.
We increasingly live in a world of politically agreeable blocs – in the main, unified by common purpose (peaceful co-existence) – even with difficult neighbours.
However, this can breed anonymity and loss of identity, so being an innocuous Switzerland or inoffensive Armenia seemingly isn’t for everyone.
With a population of roughly 30 million (25 million being homogenous) and tourist numbers on a par with the amount of names in a hermit’s address book, Jong-Un’s DPRK has to stand for something.
So, get a comedy haircut, conscript a 10 million strong army and continue to brick the windows of more powerful, more politically evolved nations like the US, Japan and of course ‘that lot in the south we don’t even acknowledge’ – what’s not to like? (Ahem.)
Not that difficult leaders are restricted to heads of state either.
Just look at the success of Ryan Air which is now the second largest European airline carrying c.86m passengers annually.**
As their CEO Michael O’Leary once said: “You’re not getting a refund so fuck off. We don’t want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund’ don’t you understand?”
If you can’t beat them and you certainly don’t want to join them, being a troublesome thorn in the side can be an option to help you stand out.
In light of recent reports of Kim Jong-Un readying his subjects for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the ‘great enemy,’ we live in hope that the UN will prevail over Un and the windows of the world remain intact.
Who know, perhaps interesting hairlines will emulate successful airlines and Jong-Un will adopt Mr. Nice tactics – just like O’Leary did.