People always be talking about "Korean Pride" and happy about the "Korean race" getting the bomb. Or when I call elements of this sort of thinking "fascist" or "racist" – I'm an asshole. Well, if you can't call North Korean thinking about the race or nation "racist" or "fascist" – is there anyone else left in the world who you can?
Read this NYT op-ed piece – Kim Jong-il’s Suicide Watch – to which I say, "amen, brother," on a lot of levels, including assuming that Kim is rational with the bomb while Iran would not be – "hey, those Muslims like to kill themselves for ideological crusades!" (and Koreans don't? – if you believe that, then please crack a Korean history book open, please.
And the North Koreans make South Korean nationalist and racial ideology look positively left-wing by comparison.
Like the Japanese in the 1930’s, the North Koreans trace the origins of their race back thousands of years to a single progenitor, and claim that this pure bloodline makes them uniquely virtuous. The country’s mass games — government-choreographed spectacles with a cast of more than 100,000 — are often mistaken by foreign journalists as exercises in Stalinism. They are in fact celebrations of ethnic homogeneity. “No masses in the world,” the state-run Cheollima magazine reminded readers in 2005, “are purer and more upright than our masses.”
In state propaganda, Kim Jong-il is often linked, as Hirohito once was, to images of white horses, snow-capped mountain peaks and other symbols of racial purity. South Korea, on the other hand, is regarded as contaminated by too close contact with other races. At a recent meeting between generals from both Koreas, the North delegation’s leader condemned the South for allowing racial intermarriage. “Not a single drop of ink,” he intoned, “must be allowed to fall into the Han River.”
Ya'll don't remember that one? I like this point, because people always underestimate the power of ideology, especially as they watch in horror and disbelief as surrounded armies stand their ground, suicide bombers walk on buses and push the button, and as kamikaze pilots crash into aircraft carriers. I love how people tend to assume that others either share their mode of rationality or worldview. Another good point:
While the North Koreans could kill a lot of people, they do not pose as great a threat to world security as imperial Japan did. Never have they shown any interest in forging an empire. All the same, the irrationality of their worldview is such that we should, at the very least, stop assuming that they would never use their own weaponry.
While Kim may not be suicidal himself, he shares Hirohito’s penchant for encouraging this quality in his people: “Defense until Death” is an increasingly popular slogan. In 2003 a colorful poster was disseminated to the foreign press showing a fat missile in flight with a suicide-readiness slogan on it: “Yankee, take a good hard look.” That isn’t bad advice.