North Korea: Excellent Horse-Like (Dead) Lady

THE SEQUEL to the “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” phenomenon in North Korea that we covered last year played out last week, with reports that the singer, and mistress of dictator Kim Jong-Un, was executed last week for filming a sex tape. It’s a troubling reflection on the North Korean junta.

I’m not going to spend long on this issue, but in light of the fact I poked fun at the North Korean smash hit “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” last year in this column I think it only right to appraise readers of the unfortunate ending the whole episode has met.

Reports around the world indicate that the lead singer of the band that recorded the song, Hyon Song-wol, has been executed, along with several associates, for apparently making a video of themselves having sex with each other and selling it.

This comprehensive report — from The Telegraph in the UK — is reflective of the information becoming available through news multiple channels.

The “crime” is puzzling from a uniquely North Korean perspective, as pornography and smut are commodities that are not just legal in North Korea, but extremely and openly popular with its citizens.

It is perhaps a reflection on the peccadilloes of members of the North Korean junta that an otherwise brutally hardline regime would tolerate something that is, typically, one of the first things censored out of existence and driven underground in such societies.

Even so, the brutal nature of the execution — Hyon was reportedly killed by rounds of machine gun fire; a previous execution was enacted using a mortar round — underlines the nihilistic violence that passes as everyday government business in this most repressed of states.

For those unfamiliar with the “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” story from its original run last July, the link I’ve posted to my article at the time, at the top of this one, is worth visiting (as is the “music” video I have linked that earlier article with as well).

But rather than laughing, this time I’m shaking my head…

It could only happen in North Korea.

By The Twitching Of My Thumbs: North Korean Nuclear Test

I certainly don’t mean to be flippant; North Korea’s third nuclear test at 1.57pm today (AEDT) heightens the risk its mad regime poses to regional and world security, backs China into a dangerous corner, and signals an approaching strike capability upon the United States.

As has been observed in the mainstream press today, North Korea is a state that is immune to the repercussions of its actions; I would go a step further, and say it is run by a junta obsessed with obtaining a nuclear strike capacity and, seemingly, the intent to use it.

Never mind that any nuclear attack launched by the DPRK’s resident despot Kim Jong-Un on South Korea, Japan or the US would likely result in the instant nuclear annihilation of his country; bellicose North Korean propaganda and rhetoric has long emphasised the regime’s belief that with an atomic strike capacity, it will be the equal of the United States.

It is difficult to sort rhetoric from reality when it comes to North Korea; certainly when endeavouring to ascertain the scope of its offensive nuclear capacity or the technological progress it has made to advance it.

Today’s test comes at a time when tensions in the North Pacific are already running high, as China throws its military muscle around in apparent pursuit of various territorial claims, with Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines all deeply unsettled by its conduct.

And it follows the recent test of a long-range ballistic missile by the DPRK that was at the minimum partially successful, and which in any case proved that North Korea is making progress in terms of the delivery systems required to hit the west of the United States.

Ominously, however, it is the first of the three nuclear tests carried out by North Korea in which the regime has claimed to have detonated a miniaturised device; were this to be true it would represent a terrifying leap forward in the North’s capacity to fit a warhead to a long-range missile and fire it at an urban American target, most likely Los Angeles.

North Korea has never attempted to conceal its hatred of the United States, nor make any secret of its desire to attack America should the means present themselves.

The difference between the DPRK and, say, Iran, is that the Koreans have also paraded their weaponry, detonated their warheads where the explosions can easily be detected, and allowed the world to watch as it openly strengthens its ability to strike.

It is here that the delusion of the North Korean regime makes it so dangerous: it actually believes the ability to hit a couple of American cities will transform it into a superpower.

China — the North’s only ally — is known to be losing patience with its problem child, and it strongly advised the DPRK not to proceed with today’s test.

Yet it seems bound to continue — for now, at least — in its role as protector, for fear of a unified Korea in alliance with the USA and the alteration to the regional strategic balance such an eventuality would bring.

The test has elicited the justified, if predictable, wave of outrage and condemnation around the world that incidents such as this do; it remains to be seen what stomach — if any — there is among the international community to do anything meaningful in response.

There will, of course, be another resolution in the United Nations to condemn the DPRK, and quite possibly another resolution imposing more sanctions.

North Korea, however, wears condemnation and isolation as a badge of honour; any additional sanctions — toothless as they must be to circumvent the vetoes of China and Russia at the UN — would seem to offer no prospect of shifting the DPRK from its course.

On the contrary, such action would likely embolden it, and not least considering today’s test was in apparent defiance of the previous sanctions imposed over the long-range ballistic missile test.

It is to be hoped the re-elected Obama administration finds a way to pressure China to reel its errant neighbour in; too often in the past four years, Obama’s government has borne a suspicious resemblance to Bill Clinton’s in foreign matters: kick issues down the road wherever possible, and hope for the best when it can’t.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in an initial reaction to news of the test, made a lot of noise as a United Nations Security Council member about “(working) for the strongest possible response to North Korea’s continuing defiance of the will of international community.”

Her government would want to do better in its efforts than the pathetic abrogation of responsibility in the UNSC with its abstention from the vote on the admission of Palestine as a member state.

China, for now, has given no indication that its position is at all changed by today’s test.

And the test, coupled with the recent missile test North Korea attempted to pass off as a satellite launch, makes it clear that the mad junta running the DPRK will not stop until it is able to lash out with nuclear weapons — and that when able to, may well do precisely that.

It pushes China down a dangerous path, and confronts it with what it perceives to be an insidious choice: to continue to back its troublesome ally and risk an eventual US-DPRK conflict into which it would inevitably be drawn; or to abandon North Korea, with the certain result it would be flooded with refugees, and hemmed in by a US-backed, unified Korea that would radically alter the strategic balance in the Pacific in America’s favour.

Both outcomes are regarded as intolerable by Beijing.

Yet the US — rightly — will not tolerate a nuclear strike on its soil without enacting colossal nuclear retribution on the perpetrator; it is doubtful the US would even tolerate the strike capability in this case, given the belligerent and inherently violent conduct of the DPRK.

By the twitching of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…

Our part of the world got that little bit more dangerous this afternoon.

Excellent Horse-Like Lady: A North Korean Joke

Readers will know North Korea and its loathsome junta have periodically elicited a thumping from The Red And The Blue, and not least on the occasion of “Dear” Leader Kim Jong-Il’s death; North Korea is again in our sights, but this time merely to encourage others to laugh at it.

An article in The Age today appears to profile what seems to be North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol; the pair have frequently been seen together  of recent times, and are widely reported as having resumed their relationship.

Ms Hyon, it seems, was the girlfriend of Kim when the pair were adolescents; more recently, she is apparently the singer in pop outfit Bochonbo Electronic Music Band, a North Korean group charting hits based on patriotic fervour.

It speaks volumes that an insular, paranoid and rigidly Stalinist society like North Korea could produce a pop band achieving wild popularity with hits of such calibre as I Love Pyongyang and She Is A Discharged Soldier; my own personal favourite — coincidentally, the band’s and Ms Hyon’s biggest hit — is the delightfully named Excellent Horse-Like Lady.

You can view the official music video for Excellent Horse-Like Lady here. It’s special.

Never mind that the lyrics are unintelligible to all beyond Korea, and never mind that this looks like the video prompt at a suburban karaoke bar.

The fact remains that all the key DPRK themes are there: women working in factories, workers happy and joyous in their servitude, images of Pyongyang so photoshopped as to almost look inviting, and lots of flowers — there always has to be lots of flowers in video propaganda made by totalitarian dictatorships.

If only fame and stardom were so simple, and such elementary ditties the ticket to Easy Street; were it so, Australia would be a nation of Popstars, and I use the term with some relish and a little glee.

Worthy of less mirth and more concern is the glimpse these developments, and the history behind them, give of the operational methods of the ruling junta in North Korea and the tactics they appear to suggest.

Kim’s relationship with Ms Hyon apparently met with an involuntary end several years ago, as Jong-Un became the obvious heir-designate to his father, Kim Jong-Il; in the intervening period Hyon married and had a child with another man. The present whereabouts and status of her husband and child are unknown.

It tends so suggest a lot about what represents acceptable and accepted social standards in North Korea, or at least where the ruling elite is concerned; that the leadership may exercise that degree of control and interference in the personal lives of its citizens despite the rhetoric about socialist utopia, and that its citizens may simply “disappear” for no better reason than the romantic whims of its “Brilliant Leader.”

Even so, whilst North Korea is in many ways an international laughing-stock, seldom does such an opportunity as Excellent Horse-Like Lady come along to provide the opportunity to simply laugh at North Korea and the fatuous, ridiculous, disingenuous popular and social culture its evil communist masters have propagated.

And I’m certain that no horses, real or imagined, were involved in the conception or the production of this peculiar piece of entertainment.

For mine, I think I’ll head down to JB Hi-Fi on the weekend and see if I can buy a copy on CD. I know my wife will kill me if I find it; she doesn’t see the funny side of these little impulse purchases.

And if that doesn’t work, there are plenty of friendly Korean karaoke bars in Melbourne…but then again, these are run by Koreans from the South, where the sun rises in the east and the Earth is round, so maybe the YouTube clip I found for it will just have to suffice.

Excellent Horse-Like Lady indeed…good Lord…

A Fitting Epitaph: Rot In Hell, Kim Jong-Il

In spite of the risk of instability in North Korea, and the potential for such instability to cause grave problems for regional stability, the death of Kim Jong-Il is to be welcomed. In death, Kim Jong-Il should be treated with the scorn and contempt he deserved in life.

Contrary to his self-styled status as a “great leader” and a “dear leader” this was not a great man; he was not a world leader of any positive stature, nor indeed was he a respected leader in any constructive sense whatsoever.

He was, in short, a menace.

The news some hours ago that Kim is dead is welcome and not a little overdue; indeed, the world has “lost” one of its most dangerous, murderous and nihilistic despots.

The official cause of death reported initially in the official North Korean media — that Kim had died “of fatigue” on a train trip — is perfectly consistent with the other mountains of horse excrement propagated (defecated?) over many years about Kim Jong-Il by his regime’s propaganda machine.

Pearls such as Kim’s ability to control the weather by the power of his mind, or such poppycock as his ability to walk at the age of three weeks, right through to the insultingly misguided belief instilled into his poor countryfolk that North Korea was a world superpower who could engage and defeat the USA in a nuclear war — to name just a few — are indicative of both the idiotic nature of his repression, and of the lame-brained lemmings the North Korean “education” system is specifically designed to churn out.

To subsequently learn that Kim had, in fact, died from a massive heart attack is surprising only insofar as that generally, in order to have a heart attack, one first must have a heart.

Don’t misunderstand: this is a regime, and a tyrant, who has amassed vast personal wealth and accrued colossal military capability — including the development and expansion of nuclear weapons capabilities — whilst his people starved; forced to eat bark and leaf litter, the average North Korean now grows to just 1.4 metres (4ft, 6in).

This is a regime, and a tyrant, who has interned hundreds of thousands of his people in military gulags for dissent; eliminated countless thousands more on political grounds; yet has systematically and consistently failed to provide basics such as clean water and reliable energy to those of his people who hung adoringly, and misguidedly, on his every word.

This is a regime, and a tyrant, who has opted not to be a responsible world citizen, but to be a proliferator of nuclear, biological and chemical technologies — and the missile capabilities with which to deliver them — to equally murderous regimes in other corners of the world.

This is a regime, and a tyrant, who has spent many years causing real military angst for neighbours such as Japan and South Korea, and — since its acquisition of nuclear bombs — has repeatedly and belligerently threatened all-out nuclear Armageddon on the Korean Peninsula, across South-East Asia, and indeed across the world.

When dealing with madmen and lunatics, it matters little that the USA would wipe North Korea off the face of the world in a retaliatory strike lasting all of five minutes; the problem with lunatics — especially nuclear-armed ones — is that they can be dangerously unpredictable; even suicidal.

No, I think it’s fair to say, advisedly, that Kim Jong-Il was a heartless bastard.

Whilst the death of Kim Jong-Il is a welcome development, it fails to solve critical questions of world security and regional security; these will, in part, form the “legacy” of his reign.

Japan and South Korea in particular will rightly be pleased Kim is dead, but equally validly concerned at what might come next.

China — the North’s only (and long-suffering) ally — will most likely, quietly, also be glad to see the back of Kim; in spite of its own military mischief and games of brinkmanship with its neighbours and the US, its recalcitrant neighbour under Kim Jong-Il had become a monster increasingly impossible to control.

Questions abound about the “succession” that will now occur in North Korea.

His designated heir — youngest son Kim Jong-Un — is aged in just his late 20s and, despite reportedly being educated in Switzerland under a pseudonym, is said to be even more paranoid and violent than his father was.

There is the possibility that one of Kim’s other sons may challenge Jong-Un for the North Korean leadership; there is also the possibility that the North Korean military will enact a coup and assume martial control of the country.

Were that to occur, the outcome — quite literally — could be anything.

Yet what is likely to endure in the North Korean psyche is the paranoia; the utter conviction that the rest of the world — and especially the United States — wishes to wantonly destroy their country; the fantasy that the South has a proactive agenda to realise the same outcome, aided and abetted by the US, when in fact South Korea overwhelmingly desires peaceful reunification with the North; and the fairytale that North Korea can wipe out its enemies, real or perceived, simply because it has a small handful of relatively weak nuclear weapons.

Added to this, as outlined earlier, is the famine, the starvation, the appalling poverty and illiteracy of the population, lack of hygiene, or anything more than mediaeval levels of medicine, industrial production, or indeed any basic necessity of life judged against modern first-world standards — an indictment on a regime proclaiming itself as “the greatest revolutionary civilisation in the history of the world.”

And all this capped off with the sheer barbarism and cruelty of a tyrannical Stalinist regime that arbitrarily executes and tortures hundreds of thousands of its own citizens with little or no valid pretext, judged against any civilised standards.

This is Kim Jong-Il’s legacy to his country, and to the world.

North Korea no more needs Kim Jong-Il than the rest of the world will miss the need to indulge, cajole, and manage him.

It is true that there are great risks now in terms of the direction North Korea will take and what the consequences will be for that country, for the Asia-Pacific region,  and for the world generally.

That said, those risks are worth exploring when weighed against the fact Kim Jong-Il, and everything his chapter of the leadership of the murderous North Korean junta represents, is now gone.

Good riddance.