Farewell to the Excellent Horse-Like Lady
August 29, 2013 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Hyon Song-wol, North Korean pop star and rumoured lover of Kim Jong Un, has reportedly been executed by firing squad. The singer, previously noted on Mefi for her 2005 video Excellent Horse-Like Lady, was reportedly arrested on August 17 and was executed with others on August 20.
posted by jokeefe (98 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
.
posted by dhoe at 9:27 AM on August 29, 2013


.
posted by jquinby at 9:27 AM on August 29, 2013


I sometimes get the feeling that the D.P.R.K. isn't the safest or easiest place to live.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:28 AM on August 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


All 12 were machine-gunned down by a firing squad three days later, while members of their immediate family were forced to watch, the paper reported.

Holy shit.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:28 AM on August 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


The family members were then sent to prison camps.
posted by 256 at 9:30 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The report makes it sound like Kim's wife ordered the hit & subsequent labor camp assignments.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:33 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


It could have been worse. The Telegraph's story on this execution claims that a general was executed in 2011 for drinking alcohol during the official mourning period for Kim Jong-il:
On the explicit orders of Kim Jong-un to leave "no trace of him behind, down to his hair," according to South Korean media, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and "obliterated."
posted by Etrigan at 9:35 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Escape From Camp 14 is a mindblowing true story about a rare escape from a North Korean labour camp by someone born and raised there.
posted by fatbird at 9:35 AM on August 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wow. So much mind-bending in so few words:
South Korean news sources are reporting that singer Hyon Song-wol, reputed ex-lover of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, was among a dozen artists who were executed for violating anti-pornography laws.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper said Hyon, a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, was arrested with 11 others on August 17. All 12 were machine-gunned down by a firing squad three days later, while members of their immediate family were forced to watch, the paper reported.

The family members were then sent to prison camps.
...
The report said the performers were accused of taping themselves performing sex acts on each other and attempting to sell the videos. The same report said some of the performers were arrested with bibles, a banned book in North Korea.

An expert on North Korea told The Daily Telegraph it is more likely they were killed for “political reasons.”
The reason their family members were sent to prison camps?
In accordance with the country’s rules on guilt by association, their families were then taken away to detention camps, according to the reports.
From that same Independent article:
Quotations from another source, again unnamed, indicated that the executions on 20 August were in keeping with the dictator’s recent activities, and “show that he is fixated on consolidating his leadership”. The source said: “Kim Jong-un has been viciously eliminating anyone who he deems a challenge to his authority.”
Here's the South Korean Chosun Ilbo article that apparently broke this story. There's not a lot there.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:37 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:38 AM on August 29, 2013


This is so weird. I'm having trouble reconciling that this is real vs the plot of an Inspector O novel.

I can believe Syria gassing it's own citizens. The wife of a leader of a country having her husband's (former?) lover executes along with a bunch of that lover's friends, and the sending a bunch of those lover and friends' families to labor camps... Like this is just ... What?
posted by sio42 at 9:39 AM on August 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


That country is so monumentally fucked-up in practically every regard, it's almost impossible to believe sometimes. I highly recommend Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader to anybody looking to learn more about it.
posted by saladin at 9:40 AM on August 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Unless of course it wasn't his wife.

But still, that only removes one tiny weird bit.
posted by sio42 at 9:40 AM on August 29, 2013


sio42: The wife of a leader of a country having her husband's (former?) lover executes along with a bunch of that lover's friends...

.. and her former band-mates. According to Chosun Ilbo: "Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju was also a member of the Unhasu Orchestra before she married him."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:41 AM on August 29, 2013


One of the most bizarre aspects is how they are trying to sell it is as punishment for the combined crimes of amateur porn and bible-owning.
posted by elizardbits at 9:42 AM on August 29, 2013 [52 favorites]


The dead were convicted of both producing pornography and possessing Bibles.

What?
posted by infinitewindow at 9:42 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is one of those "have sex with Kim Jong-Un and then zeroed in with a mortar if you do, zeroed in with a mortar if you don't" times. I hate those.
posted by nevercalm at 9:42 AM on August 29, 2013 [17 favorites]


jinx
posted by infinitewindow at 9:42 AM on August 29, 2013


Nothing says competent leadership like being completely unable to coexist with people who disagree with you. If I were a dictator, I wouldn't want to reveal to my people that I felt challenged by someone else.

In other words, go on with your bad self, Kim.
posted by emelenjr at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2013


The wife of a leader of a country having her husband's (former?) lover executes along with a bunch of that lover's friends...

.. and her former band-mates.


Kelly Rowlands and Michelle Williams could not be reached for comment.
posted by Etrigan at 9:45 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wonder how soundly his current wife sleeps, knowing what's in store if things go sour.
posted by klanawa at 9:45 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


The youtube video was yanked, or rather, the user who posted it had their account killed. The video is now here.
posted by tyllwin at 9:52 AM on August 29, 2013


Yikes, I thought I'd had some messy breakups.
posted by colie at 9:53 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I read this yesterday, there were NO real news sources anywhere in the world confirming it. Is this like, actually news now, or is it still a bunch of people quoting one completely unsubstantiated source?

It's not that I don't think this could happen in the DPRK or anything, it's just...usually mefi isn't someplace I wake up to see "yesterday's potentially made up thing that reddit blew up about."
posted by trackofalljades at 9:53 AM on August 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I wonder how soundly his current wife sleeps, knowing what's in store if things go sour.

This is a pretty clear indication that she's now got some real power: she has eliminated a rival, and those from her past who might have blackmail material. Someone in the power-structure likes having her around in case something... happens... to hubby-dear.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:54 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bible-thumping pornographers.

Truly I have reached the end of the internet.
posted by kuanes at 9:56 AM on August 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


That country is so monumentally fucked-up in practically every regard, it's almost impossible to believe sometimes. I highly recommend Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader to anybody looking to learn more about it.

Barbara Demick's Nothing To Envy is a great portrait of ordinary life in North Korea.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:57 AM on August 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


...the combined crimes of amateur porn and bible-owning.

Crimes which go unpunished by the millions in the decadent west.
posted by General Tonic at 9:57 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


So I guess they don't have the same reverence for pop stars as we do in America.
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:57 AM on August 29, 2013


Imagine how Kim Jong Un will react when he sees Mylie Cyrus' VMA performance.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:58 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


So I guess they don't have the same reverence for pop stars as we do in America.

Are you kidding? They loved her to death!
posted by ogooglebar at 9:59 AM on August 29, 2013


Is this like, actually news now, or is it still a bunch of people quoting one completely unsubstantiated source?

It's so hard to get a handle on North Korean stuff for exactly that reason. There are almost never any primary sources and the nearest region that will report on their issues is naturally going to be somewhat biased.
posted by elizardbits at 10:00 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also I would be pretty okay with fewer jokes made about woman who was possibly murdered by her ex-lover.
posted by elizardbits at 10:03 AM on August 29, 2013 [112 favorites]


.

I guess they felt like they hadn't had any attention for a bit and would try something more subtle than a nuke?
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on August 29, 2013


When I read this yesterday, there were NO real news sources anywhere in the world confirming it. Is this like, actually news now, or is it still a bunch of people quoting one completely unsubstantiated source?

It still seems like every report goes back to the South Korean report in Chosun Ilbo. The New York Magazine report is the first one I've seen to report this as possibly just a rumor, "Frustratingly, when dealing with news from inside the closed state, it's both impossible to fully believe anonymously sourced reports such as this one, and often impossible to obtain anything more concrete."
posted by gladly at 10:03 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


So he was just recently married, and now the woman he initially wanted to marry was executed? Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh.
posted by corb at 10:03 AM on August 29, 2013


Or I guess not everything the bullshit tantrum state does is about us. Who knows?
posted by Artw at 10:04 AM on August 29, 2013


As awful a place as North Korea seems to be, thanks to the Internet echo chamber I have a hard time taking at face value any news that comes out of that country.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:07 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Utter ridiculousness might seem like a clue something is actually factual...
posted by Artw at 10:08 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]




Bible-thumping pornographers. Truly I have reached the end of the internet.

Ah, I think Warren Ellis probably made them up first.

the user who posted it had their account killed

And his related accounts were sent to redtube.
posted by yerfatma at 10:10 AM on August 29, 2013


I do think joking about North Korea is weird. Especially in the previous one about the song. It seems like the entire country is a horror show. I would think that gallows humor should be reserved for people actually on the gallows.
posted by bleep at 10:12 AM on August 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


The DPRK is starting to look just like the kind of fevered, hysterical caricature of a communist country that used to be found only in Jack Chick tracts.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:13 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The wife of a leader of a country having her husband's (former?) lover executes along with a bunch of that lover's friends, and the sending a bunch of those lover and friends' families to labor camps... Like this is just ... What?

Vaguely reminiscent of European royalty in earlier history?

Not to defend the horrors of the DPRK, or to deny that this is supremely fucked up -- but to me it seems less uniquely North Korean than the framing suggests. Kings and queen's former lovers falling out of favor and losing their lives and endangering their family's status is a tale as old and universal as dynastic aristocracy, whatever shape it takes, or so it would seem to me.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:17 AM on August 29, 2013 [25 favorites]


WTF.
posted by homunculus at 10:21 AM on August 29, 2013


DPRK = Westeros.
posted by djrock3k at 10:23 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kings and queen's former lovers falling out of favor and losing their lives and endangering their family's status is a tale as old and universal as dynastic aristocracy, whatever shape it takes, or so it would seem to me.

Yes, this exactly. I could only think of Piers Gaveston offhand but the wiki article on royal favourites lists plenty more.
posted by elizardbits at 10:26 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The wife of a leader of a country having her husband's (former?) lover executes along with a bunch of that lover's friends, and the sending a bunch of those lover and friends' families to labor camps... Like this is just ... What?

If this is what happened, it's not without precedent. Supayalat, the last Queen of Burma, was suspected of organizing a major massacare (and if she didn't, her mother, one of the old king's wives, was the other likely suspect). She was known to have targeted her husband's other potential partners (always complicated in a monarchy that allows up to multiple Queens and an unlimited number of concubines, etc.).

Also I would be pretty okay with fewer jokes made about woman who was possibly murdered by her ex-lover.

Yes, this.
posted by pie ninja at 10:28 AM on August 29, 2013


Oh, those democratic republics, always executing people.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:29 AM on August 29, 2013


Holy cats. What a sad story.

.
posted by Gelatin at 10:35 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


How do we know this isn't some South Korean propaganda?
posted by Renoroc at 10:37 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bible-thumping pornographers.

Truly I have reached the end of the internet.


Actually, I think the mixing of (the imagery of) bible thumpers in porn is probably as old as porn itself. People dressed as horny nuns and priests and all that.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:39 AM on August 29, 2013


Renoroc: How do we know this isn't some South Korean propaganda?

True or not, it's propaganda.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:39 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


If it's not true, it will be a simple thing for DPRK to put Hyon Song-wol on TV to refute it. Let's see what happens, shall we?
posted by ambrosia at 10:41 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I read this yesterday, there were NO real news sources anywhere in the world confirming it.

The paper that printed the story, Chosun Iibo, is a part of a major news organization. The sources were apparently all anonymous, however. Also, it's a conservative paper, so it would tend to be more aggressively anti-DPRK. I'd be interested to hear what our Korea experts think of this particular source.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:43 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The North Korean version of "tidying up a few loose ends"?
posted by gallois at 10:44 AM on August 29, 2013


If it's not true, it will be a simple thing for DPRK to put Hyon Song-wol on TV to refute it. Let's see what happens, shall we?

Something tells me the DPRK doesn't really feel obligated to prove anything to us other than the fact they're super tough guys with nukes.
posted by Hoopo at 10:46 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


she has eliminated a rival, and those from her past who might have blackmail material

Now there is an interesting thought. Kim Jong Un's wife is even more despicable than he.

I imagine her as some sort of Korean Sybil Fawlty and Kim Jong Un as Basil just trying to stay out of her way, but being browbeaten into submission.

"Basil you said you would execute that girl. Have you done it yet?"

"No dear, I haven't, but I'lll do it straight away my darling."

"And while your at it, execute the others too"

"Yes, dear."

"And make sure that their families are made to watch."

"Yes, dear. With pleasure."
posted by three blind mice at 10:50 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Before commenting, I'll need confirmation from Ambassador Rodman.

But either way, this was definitely not in Jennifer Egan's story.
posted by surplus at 10:52 AM on August 29, 2013


Too soon.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:53 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]



I can believe Syria gassing it's own citizens. The wife of a leader of a country having her husband's (former?) lover executes along with a bunch of that lover's friends, and the sending a bunch of those lover and friends' families to labor camps... Like this is just ... What?


Norway in King Harald's time. His Saga is, um, special.
posted by ocschwar at 10:56 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which one, though? Harald Fairhair or one of the many later Haralds?

tell me what to read plz i am bored at work
posted by elizardbits at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are recent reports that 40-50% of adults in northern North Korea are addicted to meth.

It apparently got started when NK needed hard currency to buy food during the worst of its most recent famine:
In the years after the border with China opened that little crack, two other things have happened that led to the current meth crisis. First, medicine ran out and the once-not-terrible health system collapsed — more on this later. Second, North Korea started manufacturing meth in big state-run labs. The country badly needs hard currency and has almost no legitimate international trade. But it was able to exploit the black market trade across the Chinese border by sending state-made meth into China and bringing back the money of Chinese addicts.
If Kim Jong Un ever starts looking gaunt, that's when I'd say all bets are off.
posted by jamjam at 11:02 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The dead were convicted of both producing pornography and possessing Bibles.

What?
The Bible itself is pretty racy in parts. There are a bunch of things in there that, were they in any vaguely popular book except the Bible, I'm sure would cause Bible thumpers to periodically call for the removal of the book from schools and libraries.
posted by Flunkie at 11:08 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Isn't absolute evil supposed to self-destruct at some point? That's the thing I have the hardest time understanding about North Korea.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:11 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Vaguely reminiscent of European royalty in earlier history?

Most monarchs in Medieval times (inside and outside of Europe) were pretty horrendous. The ones we hold up as monsters are just more horrendous than usual, and this example would probably not make the monster list.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:26 AM on August 29, 2013


I'm guessing that the Bible being banned isn't really due as much to its content as it is to Christianity being a Western (DEVIL) thing.

There was just an article in today's FT about North Korea and human rights.

Still, the world tends not to look at North Korea through a human-rights prism. Pyongyang is seen primarily as a security threat – a would-be nuclear power that is destabilising the region with its crazed missile-firing antics. People even view North Korea, a founding member of the “axis of evil”, as almost grotesquely funny. In Team America: World Police , a satirical puppet movie, Kim Jong Il has an amusing lisp and drops Hans Blix into a tank full of hungry sharks when the UN weapons inspector asks to look around his palace. The tendency to see North Korea as a bad joke somehow takes the pressure off the world to probe its catastrophic human rights record.

This pretty well explains my discomfort with the view of the Kims as being some kind of pop culture curiosity and the resulting jokes made about them. It's not as easy to see them as these funny, crazy dictators who entertain us with their eccentricities when you consider how ruthless and evil they have been with their own people.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:26 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


[Should maybe state for the record, jokes at the expense of a murdered woman not really how we do things here. Thanks for understanding.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:27 AM on August 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


This pretty well explains my discomfort with the view of the Kims as being some kind of pop culture curiosity and the resulting jokes made about them.

Hmm. For some reason I did not interpret Kim Jong-Il's portrayal in Team America as a diversion from North Korea's human rights record. I took it as Trey Parker and Matt Stone directly insulting him, knowing that he liked to obtain and watch Hollywood movies (not unlike they did with Saddam Hussein). In fact I find North Korea's human rights record is brought up constantly in any discussion of North Korea, and thought the jokes at the Kims' expense were made in light of their being disgusting human beings. It's kind of why everyone thinks Rodman is a total moron for his comments on Kim Jong-un.
posted by Hoopo at 11:54 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The DPRK is starting to look just like the kind of fevered, hysterical caricature of a communist country that used to be found only in Jack Chick tracts.

Starting?!?
posted by dhens at 11:58 AM on August 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've been checking S. Korean news headlines and this is not part of trending news at the moment, although the story hit the major newspapers less than a day ago. (The big trending story in S. Korea is a lawmaker having been charged with intent to commit armed rebellion.)

There are reports of changes in the N. Korean military leadership - the "chief of the KPA (Korean People's Army) General Staff," Kim Kyok-sik, was ousted after just 3 months in the position. The ouster is believed to have happened on the 25th of this month. I think this lends some credence to the view that Hyon and colleagues may have been the victims of power struggles within the North Korean regime.
posted by needled at 12:08 PM on August 29, 2013


The Telegraph's story is better in that it includes more context of previous state executions for various people who got crosswise with the Kims. Independent confirmation of these 12 people's execution may not be available, but it sure fits an established pattern.
posted by Nelson at 12:19 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


But the DPRK's tourism bureau is optimistic that the country can attract leisure travelers.
posted by carmicha at 12:26 PM on August 29, 2013


sonofabitch
posted by SLC Mom at 12:28 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please, let execution-tourism not become a thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:30 PM on August 29, 2013


Two things we know for sure:

1. These types of things have happened before, it fits a pattern
2. Many soap-opera rumors about the first family turn out to be inaccurate or based on some kernel of truth but not entirely accurate. This rumor has all the makings of a Greek play.
posted by stbalbach at 12:48 PM on August 29, 2013


I think the fact that it's nigh impossible to verify the accuracy of something so atrocious is itself pretty depressing. Every time I'm confronted with another crazy—I guess that's superfluous—story about North Korea, regardless of the extremity of its nature, I find it to be wholly disconcerting. You have an entire country of people who are walled off from the outside world, who have been starved, brutalized, and generally oppressed for generations. And...there's just no end in sight. No resistance movement, no hope of overthrow, except to be replaced by something equally terrible. A whole country of people.

I hope that this particular incident is not true. But I also wonder, what's the point? How many have died needlessly in the DPRK, for some equally petty reason? And when is it ever going to stop?
posted by Brak at 1:29 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which one, though? Harald Fairhair or one of the many later Haralds?

tell me what to read plz i am bored at work


Harald Hardrada was the one I read.

Or more pertinently, there's the whole ting where Henry VIII killed the Boleyns by charging them with incest.
posted by ocschwar at 1:30 PM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Behold, thou art fair, my love;
behold, thou art fair;
thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks:
thy hair is as a flock of goats,
that appear from mount Gil'e-ad.

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet,
and thy speech is comely:
thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins,
which feed among the lilies.
Until the day break,
and the shadows flee away,
I will get me to the mountain of myrrh,
and to the hill of frankincense.

Thou art all fair, my love;
there is no spot in thee.
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:37 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


jenkinsEar: Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins,

Take your smut back to the Vatican where it belongs, before somebody machine-guns you!
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:31 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


You left out a part of that that would be sure to get the thumpers thumping:

"Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse"
posted by Flunkie at 2:42 PM on August 29, 2013


When I hear news of North Korea I can't help but wonder how long it will be before the outside world is forced to do something about it*. I think even the Chinese will at some point have to agree that the place is one hellacious clusterfuck run by a lunatic and peopled by terrified serfs. For all the bad things you can say about political freedom in China, the average Chinese citizen is in paradise compared to the poor bastards unfortunate enough to be born in the DPRK.

*Worse, imagining the incredible suffering that will occur when someone DOES try to help. There is no way the situation in that country can end well. At all.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:47 PM on August 29, 2013


China's support of North Korea isn't really idealogical or even a geopolitical strategic choice. Their interest is simple: if the DPRK collapses, they will have a massive refugee crisis on their hands. Maintaining the status quo is a superior option from a purely self-interested Chinese point of view.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:54 PM on August 29, 2013


The fact that, despite this sort of thing, North Korea can still be presented and perceived by people as "kooky" terrifies me. I personally still can't quite grasp just how awful the situation is. There are masses of families being starved, worked and tortured to death right now, but I can't begin to imagine what could possibly be done to make it better.
posted by lucidium at 4:08 PM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I personally still can't quite grasp just how awful the situation is.

No one can, really. We don't know the extent of it. The glimpses we get are disturbing and weird.
posted by Hoopo at 4:23 PM on August 29, 2013


I want to see the day when someone kills Kim Jong Un. That, followed by a razing of every statue and symbol of power established by his psychopathic family. How any one person gains the power to do destroy the heart and soul of an entire people, is beyond me. North Koreans exist in a living hell.
posted by Vibrissae at 5:23 PM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


That day will come, Vibrissae. Example: Gaddafi.
posted by surplus at 5:44 PM on August 29, 2013


This is so weird. I'm having trouble reconciling that this is real vs the plot of an Inspector O novel.

Given the headlines and events of the past 8 months, I'm convinced that the world did, indeed, actually end on 12/21/12, and reality has been replaced by Hollywood reality. It's the only plausible explanation.
posted by hippybear at 6:20 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Counterexample: Mao.
posted by Behemoth at 6:21 PM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Has anyone found a list of the people executed? I've found three names so far (Hyon Song-wol, Moon Kyong-jin, Jung Sun-Young) but not the other nine.
posted by myitkyina at 6:33 PM on August 29, 2013


Their interest is simple: if the DPRK collapses, they will have a massive refugee crisis on their hands. Maintaining the status quo is a superior option from a purely self-interested Chinese point of view.

Also, a unified Korea would leave China sharing a border with a US ally.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:15 PM on August 29, 2013


My (largely uninformed) guess is that China is fairly well prepared for how to handle an almost inevitable border with a U.S.-allied Korea, and that the U.S. has plans for how to deal with the present Seoul tripwire forces in such an instance. (A failsafe that holds back DPRK and their ancient untrained excuse for an army is one thing. A set-up which could force us into war with CHina is another.)

As for this, count me among those kind of not-at-all cool with the jokes. Since reading this earlier today I haven't been able to shake the idea of the fear these people must have felt being shoved in front of a firing squad for no real reason, after a series of surreal incidents in their lives in a place where "choice" is an alien concept.

This isn't really funny. This is just horrifying.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:08 PM on August 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, not joking material. North Korea is the furthest thing from a joke right now.
posted by arcticseal at 11:10 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm about halfway through Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea and every now and then I have to stop to ask myself why I'm pushing myself through such a bleak thing. The lives of everyone right up to the God Kims seems terrifying, but also so mundanely hopeless, I can't even begin to relate with it. When I read this news yesterday my first thought was, "yeah, that makes sense." That's just the kind of place it is - entire families get sent to camps because a neighbour overheard someone making a comment that sounds like dissatisfaction with the regime ("why don't my kids have shoes like that?"). And nobody comes back from those camps.

I'd like to say I recommend the book, but I'm not entirely sure that's what I mean.
posted by vanar sena at 12:18 AM on August 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


And this is just one little story. When North Korea collapses, assuming it is not reduced to a puff of ash, it will be like breaking a spell of silence cast on a kingdom by wicked spirits. The things they will say will frighten hell out of us. Flood and famine, hills of corpses no one had strength to bury, while the god-king chuckled and sang karaoke.
posted by pracowity at 1:37 AM on August 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


arcticseal: "Yeah, not joking material. North Korea is the furthest thing from a joke right now."

If North Korea showed up in fiction, I could see an editor advising the writer to tone it down.
posted by jquinby at 6:59 AM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


This awful event, in addition to everything I read about Un or his late father, and all these sad people living in abject poverty, surrounded by monstrous statues and beaming propaganda, it feels like that small town in It's A Good Life, only extended to an entire nation.

Truly a nightmare.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:00 AM on August 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ugh. Horrible. :(
posted by zarq at 6:10 AM on September 3, 2013


« Older Come and Trill on our Door   |   The Woman Behind Walter White Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments