Columns / Discourse / April 18, 2012

North Korea: A world of pure imagination

North Korea tried to launch a rocket into space this past Friday, ostensibly to put an observation satellite into orbit.

This shows just how backwards they’ve become: Do they actually want to develop a space program? What decade are you in North Korea, the ‘60s?

I don’t know a ton about what goes on in the old N.K., but I imagine the atmosphere is a mix between Mordor and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory: hordes of brainwashed guards wrestle for a scrap of oompa loompa meat while a diminutive maniac sings to a group of tourists as he floats by a molten volcano in his glass elevator.

Of course, the maniac who we’ve come to know and love (Kim Jong Il) recently expired and was replaced by a younger model (Kim Jong Un). This new one doesn’t seem to have quite the panache of his father: sure he’s got a rockin’ side-slicked mullet, but where are the oversized sunglasses? And as if the fashion faux pas weren’t enough, now he’s dealing with this whole failed rocket embarrassment. The rocket cost North Koreans close to $1 billion. That’s only as much as the U.S. spends on defense every 12 hours (approx. 711 billion a year). Still, $1 billion also could have relieved North Korea’s own food shortages for approximately eight years. But hey, who’s counting.

However the biggest failure, in my opinion, isn’t the mismanaged $1 billion, or even the failure of the launch. The shocking embarrassment came hours later when Kim Jong Un actually admitted something went wrong. Kim Jong Il, who launched a similarly unsuccessful rocket in 2006, never would have hesitated before bragging of his failure as a success.

Un, what’s wrong with you? Just play it off like a fireworks display put on for the dolphins of the Yellow Sea. Or just say that say that the rocket reached even higher than previously anticipated: in dying it went all the way to heaven. Or tell everyone that it wasn’t the government’s fault, the rocket disintegrated because the people didn’t believe hard enough. Or find a minority to blame: wage genocide against — I don’t know — the non-mulletted people of the world.

After you soberly admitted your failure, I actually felt a little less fear that your regime will someday plummet the world into senseless nuclear devastation. That’s no good.

My point is simply, be creative. Remember: a dictatorship isn’t a place to face the harsh truth, but rather a world of pure imagination (and fear)!

Have some fun with it. With that next billion dollars, why not turn a child into a blueberry, drown another in a river of chocolate or maybe design a pair of sunglasses that defy the laws of physics by actually being bigger than your father’s: One Pair of Designer Sunglasses to rule them all, One Pair of Designer Sunglasses to find them … they might even have a tint that’ll help protect your eyes from falling rocket debris.

Ben Lee

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