So, North Korea announced on Tuesday that its main nuclear complex is up and running, and it is currently improving the ‘quality and quantity’ of weapons that could be used against the United States at ‘any time.’
While the international media has got all shouty in reaction, this kind of talk doesn’t phase me. Threats from North Korea are, after all, how the rest of the world knows it’s still awake. In fact, if a week goes by without the US or South Korea being threatened by the DPRK, one could safely assume North Korea is taking a deep, drooly-mouthed nap.
In one of these lulls of verbal Johnson-measuring, I found myself trying to recall when this escalation currency was first introduced. Did it start under Kim Jong-un, or with his dad, Kim Jong-il, or with his dad’s dad, Kim Il-sung? I really can’t remember when I first associated North Korea with being a country That Likes To Waggle It At Other Countries. I wonder why the DPRK didn’t just take up smoking? After all, everyone knows smoking makes you look cool and hard.
Then again, perhaps the aggression is to be expected from a country where national games are all ‘hurty’. Approved ways to relax include taekwondo, wrestling and tug-of-war. When you’re physically conquered, you can then relax with a mental beating in a nice game of chess.
Still, we are where we are and anyway, that’s beside the point. I’m not worried about North Korea’s nuclear remarks. What I consider far more dangerous is its complete lack of self awareness. Seems to me that it needs to sit down and take a good look at itself – you know, just to make sure it doesn’t have its arse hanging out of its pants.
Don’t get me wrong. I for one anticipate an exciting future for the DPRK. Indeed, this is positively guaranteed by Pyongyang’s adherence to the political philosophy, Juche.
Developed in the time of Kim Il-sung, the current ruler’s granddad, Juche became the official state ideology in 1972. Broadly speaking it centres on a heady cocktail of self-reliance, self-sustenance and self-defence. And how to achieve this illusive state? Well, Juche sees North Korean Man as ‘the master of everything deciding everything.’
I find this attitude particularly refreshing in a peninsula state at a time of rising global sea levels. Good to know they’ve thought it through. It’s like Lego men have had a thought symposium and shared their findings.
Then there’s North Korea’s guiding ‘military-first’ principle, or Songun. This philosophy sets the tone for the DPRK’s entire political system. If I share with you a popular North Korean saying, you’ll get the gist: ‘Let us hold fast the gun to carry out the revolutionary cause pioneered with the gun!’ The idea is that those who carry guns can create political and ideological life. But hold on a moment…
‘Sir, sir, can I ask a question?’
‘What is it, Carruthers?’
‘How can North Korea claim to be “Democratic” in its title when it has military-first politics? Shouldn’t it be the Oligarchic Military Republic of Korea?’
‘Interesting question, Carruthers. Glad to see you’ve read your Xenophon. Never ask that question in public if you visit North Korea.’
Oh, let me not be harsh. Who doesn’t love a good contradiction? They’re like rare butterflies, dazzling us with their pretty colours as they flit past. Oh look, it’s an ISIS-bride centerfold – or is it an intellectual Donald Trump?
And hell, I’m not saying we’re immune to contradictions and oxymorons in the ‘proper democracies’ of the West. In fact, some of our best examples are enshrined in our history. In the 17th century, Britain had a rather good ‘civil war’, that we later realised was a rather bad idea and not civil at all. Oh, and of course, we’re also a big fan of ‘unbiased opinion’ – one of the foundations of the fourth estate. Deep breath. And then there’s the shining example of French Guiana also being part of the EU. So it’s not that I don’t understand how seductive the enjoyable nonsense can be.
Indeed, my sympathies are with you, DPRK. I personally love a good oxymoron, like ‘darkness visible’ from Milton’s Paradise Lost, which is also a case in point definition of these linguistic black holes. But caveat emptor, North Korea, black holes they are. You don’t have to be an idiot savant to see that embracing contradictory and isolationist national policies and philosophies will only hamper your search for international credibility and love.
Oh, my mistake. You aren’t looking for love? You’re Steven Segal not Julia Roberts? Er, OK. We’re back to the weapons again, aren’t we? To paraphrase Lieutenant Ryback: ‘I also cook (uranium)’.
Still, that’s why the nuclear weapons tough talk of the DPRK doesn’t bother me. Because if its deepest, most embedded philosophies are non-sensical to the point of farce, God only knows what their new nuclear weapons will be like. Someone better check they aren’t boomerang-shaped.
Perhaps we’ll see them rip through the skies with a dull roar, deafening silence or deliberate speed. I’ll stop it, I know, it’s gone on far too long. Told you I love an oxymoron.
© Gvons 2015