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Dec 15 2013

North Koreans really know how to denounce a guy

News from North Korea: Traitor Jang Song Thaek Executed. Read the whole thing — it’s a classic example of long-winded Communist pomposity, which ends, sadly, with the announcement of the immediate execution of the corrupt fellow who clapped half-heartedly at a conference.

Jang committed such an unpardonable thrice-cursed treason as overtly and covertly standing in the way of settling the issue of succession to the leadership with an axe to grind when a very important issue was under discussion to hold respected Kim Jong Un in high esteem as the only successor to Kim Jong Il in reflection of the unanimous desire and will of the entire party and army and all people.

When his cunning move proved futile and the decision that Kim Jong Un was elected vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea at the Third Conference of the WPK in reflection of the unanimous will of all party members, service personnel and people was proclaimed, making all participants break into enthusiastic cheers that shook the conference hall, he behaved so arrogantly and insolently as unwillingly standing up from his seat and half-heartedly clapping, touching off towering resentment of our service personnel and people.

Jang confessed that he behaved so at that time as a knee-jerk reaction as he thought that if Kim Jong Un’s base and system for leading the army were consolidated, this would lay a stumbling block in the way of grabbing the power of the party and state.

I hope this North Korean denunciation doesn’t end the same way.

52 comments

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  1. 1
    Holms

    Jesus fucking christ, state sanctioned murder for insufficient transports of joy for the new tyrant. Where have I read that exact sentiment before?

  2. 2
    David Marjanović

    In too many places.

  3. 3
    vorjack

    My understanding is that Jang Song Thaek was Kim Jong-un’s uncle. This is less an example of North Koreans attacking someone for not being enthusiastic, and more a move to consolidate power by Kim Jong-un.

  4. 4
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Vorjack, keep in mind that this is a propaganda hit piece. It may be true that Jang Song Thaek was murdered in order to consolidate Kim Jong-un’s power over the party and state. But that is not the story that the state wants to have out there.

    Remember, the story is that the three generations of Kim’s are only doing what is best for the people and in return, the people unconditionally love the Kim’s. Lack of enthusiasm is proof that you are a traitor. (Doesn’t matter if this is true. It must be treated as such.)

  5. 5
    knut7777

    Years ago I worked in Asia and craved contact with the outside world, so I bought a cheap shortwave radio to pick up the BBC. This was pre-internet by a couple years. I soon found the KCNA English language news, and after first grasping that this was indeed deadly serious, soon made it the absurdist staple of my morning ritual. It was bracing to be described as an ‘American running dog’ and other heady appellations. Also, to hear of the death of the Great Leader and the subsequent orchestration of mourning, under penalty of death, I imagine, was like spying on an alien civilization.

  6. 6
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I cannot help but think that a certain assclam is giggling because PZ has a post about Kim Jong-un.

    (Sorry for being off topic here.)

  7. 7
    marcoli

    North Korea is one f*cked up country. When it implodes, the revelations of what has been going on over there will give us shudders for a very long time.

  8. 8
    Don'tWantNo (ShortShortMan)

    From the denunciation:

    He worked hard to put all affairs of the country under his control, massively increasing the staff of his department and organs under it, and stretch his tentacles to ministries and national institutions. He converted his department into a “little kingdom” which no one dares touch.

    That sounds like exactly the sort of thrice-cursed treasoner who would find sympathy in a place like this. What with the organs and tentacles and little kingdoms and all.

  9. 9
    Geral

    @ 7
    I cannot wait for the day the world headlines say “General arrests Kim Jung-Un, says N. Korea ready to join world community”. I hope it happens in my lifetime.

    Can’t come soon enough. The stories of their prison camps are horrendous. The USA got a lot of slack for not intervening in Nazi Germany’s prison camps sooner but N. Korea’s are a stain on the entire world. We know they are there and the kind of brutalities that take place.

    N. Korea makes China look like a libertarian paradise..

  10. 10
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Despite the unpleasantness of the circumstances, I do quite like the expression ‘unpardonable thrice-cursed treason’.

  11. 11
    pacal

    This is typical of a Stalinist autocracy, which is what North Korea is. The basic script was created by Stalin, (The fawning personality cult, the heaps of adulation.), and copied in numerous Communist dictatorships since. What is fascinating is that many of these dictatorships, especially Stalin’s, had brain dead “Fellow Travelers”,. Yeah, Stalin, Mao etc., were praised to the skies by some who were fortunate not to live under them.

    Interestingly North Korea has a quasi “Fellow Traveler” in person of the scholar Bruce Cumings.

  12. 12
    mothra

    @7. North Korea will likely explode rather than implode.

  13. 13
    erik333

    Hell, even a (now retired) communist at work, when pushed, agreed north korea had gone a bit too far. It was mostly the fault of the US and the west, of course, but they’d gone a bit too far.

    @9 Geral

    Doing something by force against north korea isn’t trivial. That would turn inte one big clusterfuck.

  14. 14
    JohnnieCanuck

    @12. If North Korea explodes, it may involve something like a foreign flag freighter sailing up the Han River with a nuke.

  15. 15
    Olav

    Wasn’t it another family member who was executed a while ago by having a mortar round fired at him? It cannot be denied they do possess a bizarre originality over there.

    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is neither democratic, of the people, or even a republic. The leadership cannot be called communists either.

    One thing that could happen with North Korea is when China finally grows tired of their antics, pulls its support for the Kim clan and intervenes in the country. China is nothing like an ideal country itself but this is a situation where they could possibly do something positive.

  16. 16
    robro

    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker @#10

    I do quite like the expression ‘unpardonable thrice-cursed treason’.

    And the oft repeated “our service personnel and people.” Who are these “service personnel”? Are they not people? I assume this is bad translating. Perhaps they just mean government workers, but I thought everyone in NK was a government worker.

  17. 17
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    We all know that North Korea only exists because China willed it so.

    Of course, South Korea only exists because the US willed it so.

    This is the tale of 2 imperial powers dictating the situation on that peninsula. It might be that the entire peninsula would have been united, but the US intervened (and killed people) to prevent a communist takeover and then the peninsula might have been united again, but China intervened (and killed people) to prevent a capitalist takeover.

    I think it’s fair to say that the South got the better end of that deal, but it was a hellish deal for everyone

  18. 18
    MJP

    That document is so hammy, it’s like reading a fantasy novel.

  19. 19
    rorschach

    What does any of this have to do with communism? North Korea is a totalitarian state with a leader cult, loosely held together by the threat of death for dissent and an ideology of being the cleanest race, which is based on race ideas from Korean(and some Japanese thrown in) mythology.

  20. 20
    ibyea

    Crip
    And South Korea was a horrible country to live in for a long while after the war, I would say at that point just as bad as the North. My parents themselves suffered from severe poverty and starvation. Thankfully, situations are a lot better. I wish it hadn’t taken a few dictatorships for South Korea to get it right, though.

  21. 21
    Erp

    I agree this internal family execution seems pure Korean (and similar to a lot of other royal family histories). Check out the history of the first few rulers of the Joseon dynasty (brothers kill brothers, killing of in-laws).

  22. 22
    robro

    Crip @#17

    We all know that North Korea only exists because China willed it so. Of course, South Korea only exists because the US willed it so.

    Actually the division was more a product of Soviet-American geopolitics at the end of WWII, rather than Sino-American. Kim Il-sung, the Eternal President, was a client of the Soviets and led a Soviet brigade in the Far East. True the Chinese stepped in to shore him up during the Korean War, but that was because the Soviet Union rather abandoned them and Mao didn’t want American troops on his border.

    Also, I believe there is some deep historical basis for the north/south divide on the Korean peninsula. The Three Kingdoms Period (57 CE to 668 CE) and the North South States Period (7th-10th century CE). Naturally China always had a big influence in the north, while the south had more wiggle room…except when the Japanese got involved.

  23. 23
    robro

    Erp @#21

    I agree this internal family execution seems pure Korean (and similar to a lot of other royal family histories). Check out the history of the first few rulers of the Joseon dynasty (brothers kill brothers, killing of in-laws).

    Check out the history of the Maccabees and the Herodians after them. Yes, death by family member is a common fate with a dictator in the family.

  24. 24
    Georgia Sam

    Not applauding enthusiastically enough? That’s almost as bad as shaking hands with the wrong person.

  25. 25
    NelC

    Don’t forget the role of another imperial power — Japan — in fucking up the peninsula for a half-century before they surrendered to the Americans. Korea’s been pretty thoroughly screwed over; it’s a miracle that the South is a relatively decent place to live these days. Half the population being targeted by DPRK artillery aside.

  26. 26
    left0ver1under

    The North Korean government is a true reflection of its people. Some citizens have resorted to cannibalism due to starvation, and now the government is starting to cannibalize its own.

    Holms (#1) -

    state sanctioned murder for insufficient transports of joy for the new tyrant. Where have I read that exact sentiment before?

    People weren’t killed for doing it, but during Turn your back on bush in 2002, Ohio State students were assaulted and forcibly removed from the building.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turn_Your_Back_on_Bush

    The results were different, but the sentiment was the same.

  27. 27
    Azuma Hazuki

    @1/Holms

    In the Bible. Repeatedly. Only replace “murder” with “endless, infinite, eternal torture in flames” for the last couple of incidences.

    I really have to wonder why so few believers realize that their God is literally Infinite Hitlers. In fact, I may start substituting Yahweh with “Infinite Hitlers.” It STILL wouldn’t be a Godwin-disqualifier because it’s the bloody truth.

  28. 28
    Amateur

    That is tone warrior rhetoric to put all tone warriors to shame.

    But “Communist”? Really?

    I mean, just because they call themselves that doesn’t meant they actually are, right? Rather the way that American “Republicans” barely resemble actual republicans. This isn’t “True Scotsman” stuff: American Republicans support dismantling everything that supports a vital republic; North Korea is clearly a hereditary monarchy.

  29. 29
    lsamaknight

    Amateur @ 28

    North Korea don’t actually even call themselves Communist anymore. It’s been scrubbed from their constitution and dropped from official language. The official state ideology is now “Juche” generally translated as “self-reliance” which would be hilariously ironic if the reality weren’t so horrific.

  30. 30
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    [communism/Juche]


    Pffffffft
    of all knowledge has this (Brian Myers book is very good as an intro to North Korea):

    Sham ideology

    Brian Reynolds Myers in his book The Cleanest Race dismisses the idea that Juche is North Korea’s leading ideology, regarding its public exaltation as designed to deceive foreigners. … pointing out that North Korea’s latest constitution, of 2009, omits all mention of communism. Myers states that Juche is merely a sham developed to extol Kim Il-sung as a political thinker alongside Mao Zedong. According to The Cleanest Race, North Korea’s government is founded on far-right politics, rather than those of the far left, because of the state’s military-first policy, racism, and xenophobia, as evidenced by the attempted lynching of Black Cuban diplomats and forced abortions of North Korean women pregnant with ethnic Chinese children.

    He obviously goes into far greater detail in the book.

  31. 31
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    “It was the settled policy of the Tudors to rid themselves of all possible rivals to the throne” or words to that effect.

  32. 32
    fourtytwo

    Do they realize that 1984 wasn’t an instruction manual? I don’t even know if Orwell could have imagined such a terrifying scene.

  33. 33
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ fourtytwo

    I don’t even know if Orwell could have imagined such a terrifying scene.

    Hyper-racism and the infantilisation of the masses he would likely have understood. The overly charismatic, motherly (rather than brotherly) Dear Leader certainly (Kim Il-sung a product of a Stalinist Military – which he understood only too well), the marching, murder and concentration camps. “Joy Divisions”, all of that.

    That Airstrip One would lie in Asia and be composed solely of North Koreans, perhaps less likely.

  34. 34
    laurentweppe

    When it implodes, the revelations of what has been going on over there will give us shudders for a very long time.

    We already know enough of what happens here to give us shudder (I mean, there are concentration camps where the grand children of convicts are prisonners: they’re condemning people and all their issues till the end of time to slave labor: fucked up does not even begin to describe it)

  35. 35
    Nick Gotts

    I find the quotation in the OP rather impressive: clearly, under the guidance of eternal President Kim Il-Sung, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea has made huge strides in artificial intelligence, and it won’t be long before their political rhetoric machines can pass the Turing test!

  36. 36
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I don’t know why they don’t simply call it a monarchy and get over with it. It would solve so many of their problems because clearly the west in general has no problem with absolute monarchs who execute people.

  37. 37
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Giliell

    Lack of oil?

    The Chinese are peaved Uncle died. It is a snub to them, and it fucks with their coal supply.

  38. 38
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the Chinese keep NK around because it annoys the neighbours and the west…

    However, since new boy took over I’m not sure what is going to happen as he seems particularly paranoid.

  39. 39
    haitied

    All I got from that is 2 things, Curses come in threes, and that someone could make a killing in North Korea by opening an ax grinding business.

  40. 40
    davidjanes

    China is nothing like an ideal country itself but this is a situation where they could possibly do something positive.

    All they have to do is become convinced that it is a cakewalk that will pay for itself via the vast rare earth deposits in North Korea and that they will be welcomed as liberators.

    There are many moral reasons to intervene, but no compelling national interest for them to do so. They’ve shown that they will take the latter path over and over again.

  41. 41
    Nick Gotts

    Olav@15, davidjanes@40,

    The assumption that a Chinese invasion of North Korea would either be easy, or would lead to an improvement for its people, is a unjustified. I imagine the Chinese are remembering the fierce resistance they met when they invaded Vietnam in 1979 – and Vietnam did not have nuclear weapons. There would be nothing better calculated to rally the North Korean population behind the regime than a Chinese invasion – Korea, like Vietnam, has a long history of resistance to Chinese domination. Moreover, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the USA would all be extremely alarmed at such an attempt to extend Chinese military power, and in the absence of a UNSC resolution authorising it, or a North Korean attack on China, an invasion would be a clear violation of international law.

  42. 42
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Jesus. Most police states at least have the decency to pretend that they aren’t the living embodiment of an Orwellian dystopia. But NK just comes right out and says “We killed him because he didn’t clap hard enough”. Fuck.

  43. 43
    Olav

    Nick Gotts #41:

    The assumption that a Chinese invasion of North Korea would either be easy, or would lead to an improvement for its people, is a unjustified.

    When I said in #15 that I think perhaps China should intervene in North Korea I did not mean they should invade.

    Though I can see it was silly of me not to realise that those verbs have become virtual synonyms through much of recent history.

    To be clear, I really do not want the goddamned “People’s Liberation Army” to march into North Korea. That would indeed be a disaster. But I believe the Chinese government, if it wants, must have lots of other ways in which they can do something about the situation. They certainly have better leverage against North Korea than any other country in the world, or the UN.

    Even if China is exclusively concerned with its own national self-interest, I don’t see how they can let the Kim regime run out of control even more. What is happening now really can ‘t be very useful or reassuring for them.

  44. 44
    northernvirginia

    Wish I could take credit for this, but someone tweeted “In all fairness to Kim Jun Un, everyone has relatives they don’t want to see over the holidays”

  45. 45
    Conservative Newswire

    This reminds me of the hate mail PZ and Mikey Weinstein get, especially that first sentence: “… unpardonable thrice-cursed treason as overtly and covertly standing in the way of settling the issue of succession to the leadership with an axe to grind…” Good grief, it’s the kind of writing that makes me want to stab my eyes!

    Oh, by the way, hello FtB, I’m a sometime lurker and longtime fan. Pleased to make your acquaintances.

  46. 46
    Travis

    What is fascinating is that many of these dictatorships, especially Stalin’s, had brain dead “Fellow Travelers”

    It is. I really have a hard time understanding how people could have visited Stalin’s Soviet Union, toured the model farms and such, read transcripts of the show trials, and come away from it thinking everything was wonderful. I have to admit I occasionally read the Korean Friendship Association’s forums. They are definitely of this model. When they visit the DPRK they “oooo” and “awww” at the farms and factories they visit, never questioning whether it is real (when the BBC goes they actually look around and notice things like factories where the bottles go around and around, never getting filled). Reading those forums fills me with a mixture of joy, for it is funny on some level, but also sadness and despair.

  47. 47
    laurentweppe

    It is. I really have a hard time understanding how people could have visited Stalin’s Soviet Union, toured the model farms and such, read transcripts of the show trials, and come away from it thinking everything was wonderful

    They didn’t: they had the choice between
    1. Aknowledging that they had been fooled by the rhetoric of charlatans and lose face.
    2. Lie
    They chose 2, because unless you metaphorically twist their arms to the breaking point, human beings always try to save face.

  48. 48
    davidgibson

    here is a link to Daily NK a good source for a look into that country.
    http://www.dailynk.com/english/index.php
    for something a bit deeper try leadership watch
    http://nkleadershipwatch.wordpress.com/

  49. 49
    =8)-DX

    Jesus. Most police states at least have the decency to pretend that they aren’t the living embodiment of an Orwellian dystopia. But NK just comes right out and says “We killed him because he didn’t clap hard enough”. Fuck.

    Misunderstood I think:
    1) Language – that text is a bad translation of a propaganda piece – it’s not 100% obvious what he is to be executed for.
    2) They mention him taking hold of power in person vs. being a beaurocrat – that is an actual political motive – all individual political ambition not sanctioned now is wrong.
    3) In an 1984 they would have actually killed him for not clapping hard enough. In 1984 they *cared* Here that’s just the excuse.

  50. 50
    keithm

    One of the most telling stories about North Korea came from a woman (a doctor, I believe) who made it across the border into China and was sneaking around a village one night trying to figure out what to do next when she was stunned to see a bowl of rice and meat, a better meal than she’d seen in months, just lying outside a house. And then nearly had an emotional breakdown when she realized it was the family dog’s food.

  51. 51
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    I am wondering who will be next: Kim Kyong Hui or Kim Yong-nam?

  52. 52
    wildwilly1111

    damned by faint praise…

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