The General To Watch In North Korea

- December 22nd, 2011

kim-jong-il-riding-horse

Now you didn’t really think that 27- or 29-year-old Kim Jong-un — the young’un — was just going to step in and take over control of the ruthless, organized gang of mobsters and killers that has feasted on North Korea’s scrawny carcass for 60 years, did you?

 

I laughed and laughed when I saw headlines like “N. Korea’s young leader firmly in power: Analysts.” Whoever’s paying those analysts should fire them for being quacks.

 

Of course The Littlest Kim will stick around as a convenient figurehead Supreme Leader and Beloved Father of His Country, but real power will reside with a handful of generals, all of whom were cronies or proteges of the glorious and (thankfully) dead Kim Jong-il.

 

It’s a deal that serves everyone well — “everyone” in this case being the tiny elite that profits from North Korea’s misery and deprivation. The other 24 million dispossessed, famished North Koreans and the rest of the world just don’t enter into the equation.

 

I’d call it a “deal with the devil” except there are so many devils in this hellhole that it’s hard to pick sides.

 

I’m now going to show you a photo of the two Kims — the currently dead Kim Jong-il on the right and the living puppet Kim Jong-un second from the left — sandwiching the devil-in-chief who currently controls the real levers of power.

 

Sept

The photo was taken Sept. 9, 2011, at a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the communist regime in North Korea.

 

You may have seen the photo before (or one like it) and you may have noticed the military man in the middle with all the ribbons and braid but you’ve probably never seen him identified by name before.

 

It’s not that he keeps a particularly low profile (no more so than any other senior capo of the Hermit Kingdom), but it apparently complicates the storyline too much for most mass media outlets to IDENTIFY THE ONLY MAN STANDING BETWEEN AN ABSOLUTE DICTATOR AND HIS ANOINTED HEIR.

 

The man in the middle — the guy with the cat-who-swallowed-the-canary expression on his face — is Ri Yong-ho.

Ri-yong-ho

Ri Yong-ho 

Ri is one of three active vice-marshals of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), chief of the KPA general staff and co-chairman of the Workers’ Party Central Military Commission (the other co-chair is sonny boy Kim Jong-un, both appointed by dead dad in a September 2010 military housecleaning).

 

The man on the far left of the photo is also one of the most important players in the new regime — Kim Yong-chun.

kimyongchun

Kim Yong-chun

This Kim (no relation to the dictatorial  Kims but an intimate crony) is also a KPA vice-marshal and currently holds the posts of  minister of the people’s armed forces and (more importantly) vice-chairman (until recently under the chairmanship of Kim Jong-il) of the National Defence Commission, the ultimate control centre of North Korea’s armed forces.

 

It is control of the might of those armed forces that determines who calls the shots in this totalitarian state for the foreseeable future. Now that Kim Jong-il is dead, that control is exercised by half a dozen generals, the most important of which is Ri Yong-ho (not to be confused with another Ri Yong-ho who is North Korea’s deputy foreign minister).

 

2011Kim-Jong-un-and-Ri-Yong-ho

Here’s another shot of Kim Jong-un and Ri Yong-ho from the Sept. 9, 2011 ceremony. Who’s giving instructions to who? Right.

To understand the military’s power in North Korea you have to go back to Kim Jong-il’s assumption of leadership after the 1994 death of his father, Kim Il-sung, glorious founder of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and the deified father of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). [Kim Il-sung, DOA - SOL - LOL.]

 

 

kim-jong-il--phallic-fireworks

A Funny Little Monster

 

Kim Jong-il grew up in an environment of power and death. Apart from the millions of non-relatives who have died at the hands of his family, there’s a very good chance that Kim’s father killed his mother and an equally good chance that, as a five-year-old fearing usurpation of his father’s affection, Kim Jong-il drowned his younger brother.

 

Kim Jong-il’s excesses and outrages are fun to ponder, but I’m not going to delve into his $600,000-a-year Hennessy cognac habit, his luxurious armoured trains (fear of flying), his airlifts of live lobsters and blonde Scandinavian “entertainers,” his passion for movies in general and Elizabeth Taylor in particular, his kidnapping of South Korean film directors and movie stars, his elevator shoes or even his penchant for siphoning the blood of virgins to give his ravaged, abused body another shot of the elixir of life.

 

But here’s a link to more on the kinks, carnalities and curiosities of  Kim Jong-il, thanks to our perpetually agog friends in the British press.

 

wineglass

As a matter of family background, it’s interesting to note that Kim Il-sung, the “founder” of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was put in place as a matter of convenience by Stalin after the Red Army rolled over the Japanese occupiers in late 1945. Stalin asked his secret police chief Beria to find him a suitable candidate and Beria, after a quick perusal of all those Koreans then working with the Russians, chose Kim Il-sung. Luck of the draw, to a certain degree, but Kim Il-sung’s ruthless adherence to Stalinist (un)principles must have shone through.

 

Kim Il-sung, by the way, only lived in Korea until he was eight, before moving with his family to Manchuria to escape famine. All of his formal education happened in China and Kim barely spoke Korean when he arrived back in his homeland in 1945 as the Soviet surrogate.

 

As for speaking, the junior dictator, Kim Jong-il, is known to have given only one broadcast speech in his entire life — at a military parade in 1992 when he said into a microphone on the reviewing stand “Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People’s Army!”

 

That’s it, sum total. No Hitleresque hour-long diatribes before rapturous masses. No public voice to put to the public face. Just silent staged appearances, photos and manuscripts of carefully groomed pronouncements (oh, and books — Kim Jong-il was credited by the North Korean propaganda machine with writing thousands of books on everything from opera to computer programming).

 

The Great Leader Kim Il-sung publicly designated his eldest son, Kim Jong-il, as his eventual successor in 1980 but the succession plan had been in place and known by members of the ruling elite since the mid-1970s.

Dad-and-son-1983

So Kim Jong-il had about two decades to learn at the feet of the master and stretch his tyrannical wings before grabbing the big stick in 1994.

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Feb

Kim-Il-Sung-and-Kim-Jong-Il-poster

Compare that to little Kim Jong-un, who has been the official Great Successor for barely more than a year and who, right up to dad’s death, was still trailing around Kim Jong-il’s public appearances (or the public appearances of one of the old man’s several surgically enhanced body doubles) like a jumpy puppy.

 

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Despite his decades of preparation, Kim Jong-il was nearly pushed aside in the mid-1990s by the political old guard who had learned their communism in Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China, and who had led the eternal fight (from the rear) against the Japanese, the South Koreans, the Americans and ultimately the free world — including Canada —  to build and fence in their totalitarian enclave.

 

No, the hardened cadres of the Workers’ Party of Korea weren’t going to hand over power to a boy (a 50-ish “boy” but a boy nonetheless to that bunch of tough old buggers in their 70s and 80s) just when Kim Il-sung’s dead fingers were finally pried loose from the levers of total command.

 

The Kim Jong-il of 1994 and 1995 — feeling denigrated and disrespected by the party elite, increasingly isolated and cut out of the inner political circle — looked to the only other viable power base, the Korean People’s Army (the navy and air force are just two of the five branches of the KPA, not separate services).

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During his 20-year apprenticeship, Kim Jong-il held military as well as political appointments and he turned in 1994 and 1995 to his military contacts to bolster support in his fight for dominance — and survival.

 

The military leadership — rivals of the party apparatus and resentful of civilian control  — threw its support behind Kim Jong-il, but with a very expensive price tag attached.

 

That price tag bore the name Songun — “military first” — a policy that has been the guiding principle of North Korean life for the past 15 years and which, in the present circumstances, seems likely to continue as such for the foreseeable future.

 

Songun “elevates the Korean People’s Army to the primary position in the government and society.” In Soviet Russia, the proletariat supposedly occupied that position. In Mao’s China, it was the peasantry. In Kim Jong-il’s Korea, it became the military — in reality and philosophically.

 

It means the military is looked after before all else — even in the midst of the terrible famine that killed an estimated 250,000-500,000 in the 1990s  and early ’00s and is still hanging like a spectre over the North Korean people.

 

No sacrifice is too great to support the Korean People’s Army. And don’t you forget that, fella. Of course, the food supply is so tight in North Korea that the ordinary soldier is suffering hardship too and morale is reportedly low. But the 200,000 or so special operations forces, the elite, are well-fed and well-supplied so they’ll keep the other poor bastards in line.

 

poster

 

Armed and Dangerous

 

The Korean People’s Army is the fourth largest military organization in the world although North Korea has only 24 million people. Its 1.2 million active soldiers, sailors and air force personnel don’t come close to China’s 2.3-million People’s Liberation Army, but the KPA is right up there in the million-plus category along with the U.S. and Russia. Canada, with 30% more people than North Korea, has only about 68,000 personnel in its armed forces.

 

One out of every five males between the ages of 17 and 54 is serving in the North Korean military at any one time and the rest can be called up at a moment’s notice.

 

The KPA is divided into five branches: ground forces, navy, air force, artillery/missile guidance bureau (which includes nukes) and special operations.

 

The military is the only route of real advancement in North Korea, so the most ambitious, the best (figuratively speaking) and the brightest make the military their careers. And the cream of the cream — the smartest, the strongest, the most cunning, the most ruthless, the fastest dancers — rise to the top.

 

The KPA’s annual budget of $6-7 billion is small compared to what other countries spend (hundreds of billions in the case of the U.S. and China) but it’s enormous in terms of the share it takes from North Korea’s economy. With a Gross Domestic Product estimated at anywhere between $25 billion and $40 billion (5-8% of Ontario’s GDP), North Korea’s military spending accounts for 20-25% of the country’s entire GDP. It’s said that when the full spectrum of defence spending  — including missile development and nuclear and biological weapons production — is accounted for, the military gobbles up an estimated one-third of North Korea’s economic life. (By comparison, the U.S. and Russia spend under 5% of their GDPs on the military, China spends about 2.2% and Canada spends 1.5%. Also by comparison, North Korea spends an estimated 2% of its GDP on health care.)

 

All this while millions are starving and the country is perpetually on the brink of another famine.

 

 

The power struggle boiled down to Hitler’s famous dictum regarding the influence of Pope Pius: “How many armoured divisions does he have?”

 

The KPA had the guns and the manpower, not the WPK. Iron will doesn’t matter in power politics if you don’t have the iron fist to back it up.

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It took three years, but Kim Jong-il and his military backers had broken the back of the aging political cadres sufficiently that Kim was finally able to become General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea in 1997.

 

By 2000, the political machine of the DPRK was little more than a rubber stamp bureaucracy with military men holding many of the elective and ceremonial offices and most of the real positions of influence.

A

A dictator outstanding in his field

Don’t get me wrong: Kim Jong-il was a genuine dictator with absolute power over everyone in North Korea, including his military henchmen. When Kim had to quit smoking for health reasons a few years ago, everyone in the country was forced to quit too, including the military (although I’m sure many generals puffed away in happy privacy inside their mansions.)

 

But Kim’s power still came from the mouth of a gun barrel and if he had ever wavered in his Songun policy — if he had ever tried to take away the military’s position and privileges — that gun barrel would have been pointed at him.

 

So it is no surprise that now that Kim Jong-il is gone, his puppy son is being absorbed into the military hierarchy that runs the country.

 

Even if he had the guts, gumption and survivability to challenge the military, there is no longer any other power base Kim Jong-un could turn to for support.

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Instead, Kim Jong-un will be given a fancy uniform (his dad already made him a four-star general in 2010) although he probably won’t wear it, since dad and granddad didn’t. He’ll get a few new glorious titles. He’ll be able to keep some — not all — of dad’s 17 known mansions. He’ll be able to watch NBA telecasts on satellite TV to his heart’s content. He can peruse dad’s collection of 20,000 movie titles or 10,000 bottles of haut-end French wine. He can stuff his fat face with french fries and fresh lobster. He can plot the assassination of his elder half-brother, now exiled in China.  He can stand on balconies basking in the love and admiration of his people. And the generals will even defer to him a little bit in public — just to maintain the Kim dynasty facade.

UPDATE:  So Kim Jong-un is now head of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Remember what I said about a few more meaningless titles being heaped on? The Central Committee of the WPK has met ONCE IN THE PAST 17 YEARS.

Kim-Jong-nam-eldest-son

Exiled elder half-brother Kim Jong-nam

But he will not be a ruler. He will not even share more than peripherally in the exercise of power. Sort of a North Korean Fredo Corleone.

 

The man who will call most of the shots — either directly or through consensus with the other de facto junta generals — is KPA Vice-Marshal Ri Yong-ho.

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Ri is a hardliner, adamantly opposed to closer relations with either South Korea or the U.S. (So you can also ignore any “analysts” who even hint that the death of Kim Jong-il “could” warm things up with the West.)

 

He was promoted to the exalted rank of vice-marshal by Kim Jong-il in 2010 as part of a widespread housecleaning that got rid of a lot of old-timers in both the military and political hierarchies and put proven Kim loyalists in key roles to pave the way for a (relatively, so to speak) smooth transition of power to the young’un, Kim Jong-un, on the death of the Dear Leader (not to be confused with Kim Il-sung, the Great Leader).

 

That was the plan anyway.

 

The generals were unquestionably loyal to Kim Jong-il (if “loyalty” is what you call the self-serving and self-preserving fealty of paranoid cutthroats to a brutal megalomaniacal overlord) but once Kim Jong-il was gone, chubby little Kim Jong-un was no more than Puppy Chow to a pack of ravenous dogs.

 

Ri was a key member of the transition team that Kim Jong-il put in place to smooth the succession process. The group was made up of generals close to the Kim family and civilian politicians who were either related to the Kims (by blood or marriage) or who had proven their absolute devotion to the Kim clan over time.

 

But while the ostensible Kim succession plan moved along on the surface, often with Kim Jong-un’s aunt and uncle shepherding him from public function to public function, the generals were planning their own much-quieter succession in the background.

 

 

Jang-Song-thaek

It’s All Relative

Much as I laughed at analysts’ pontifications that the young’un is “firmly in power” and that relations between North Korea and the West could now improve, I also have to laugh at another commonly spouted falsehood — that Jang Song-taek, Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law,  is the real force behind the throne.

Often called the second most powerful man in North Korea after Kim Jong-il, Jang is married to the dead dictator’s younger sister. It is that family connection that secured his position, allowed him to amass an obscene fortune, oversee the state security apparatus and much of North Korea’s foreign economic dealings (hence his fortune), and remain close to the Dear Leader.

In group photos, you will often see Jang hovering just over Kim Jon-il’s left shoulder, waiting for whispered instructions.

Jang-in-black

Jang (in black), always attentive, always awaiting orders, always to the Dear Leader’s left side — funny, since he has so often been called “Kim Jong-il’s right-hand man”

But despite his wealth, his cunning and his nearness to the sun god, Jang’s power — like Kim Jong-un’s — was just a reflection of the living Kim Jong-il. Once Kim Jong-il’s light was snuffed out,  so was the power reflected onto Jang Song-taek.

Jang is still showing up in official photos of the mourning ritual, but when the funeral and embalming procedures are finished in a week or two, you will see fewer and fewer photos of Jang as he is pushed into the background and relieved of his responsibilities, duties and authority.

Why? Because, despite being the supremo of the dreaded state security apparatus, Jang is just another civilian politician. His wife was appointed a four-star general at the same time his nephew was in 2010, but Jang got no stars, no military standing. The military wouldn’t put up with it.

And now that Kim Jong-il is gone, so too is the influence of his slithery little fixer.

Jang will be kept around for a while to crack the whip over the civilian side of the party organization but he’s not calling any shots.

So feel free to ignore any analysts talking about the behind-the-scenes control of Jang Song-taek.

UPDATE: I see Jang is now wearing the uniform of a 4-star general in official mourning photos. Probably means something, but not a lot — except that the military is in total ascendancy and you’re either with them entirely or you’re out of the picture.

 

Back to Ri Yong-ho and his general cohorts, the real power in North Korea now.

 

Ri was pegged early by the military brass as an up-and-comer and given rapid advancement to important positions, all of which he handled with skill, strategic insight and prudent modesty.

 

It’s also important to know that Ri, the son and grandson of valued military aides to Kim Il-sung, was about the same age as Kim Jong-il and spent his childhood in the same social circles as Kim.

 

Whether or not they were friends (I doubt anyone could have ever been considered a “friend” of Kim Jong-il), they were definitely close enough growing up that Ri could be included in the small inner circle of family and intimates that the Dear Leader trusted (as far as Kim Jong-il trusted anyone; when Kim was under heavy medication after his 2008 stroke, he made his entire inner circle take the same daily dosages he took so that if he became addicted, they all became addicted).

 

After proving his martial chops and organizational abilities at the field level, Ri was appointed commander of the Pyongyang Defence Command in 2003.

 

That position was a direct appointment by Kim Jong-il because it represents the most important military unit for the protection of the North Korean capital, its governing elite and — most importantly, from Kim’s perspective — the Dear Leader himself. The Pyongyang Defence Command includes ground and air forces protecting the capital region as well as an extensive missile grid.

 

Ri held that crucial command until 2009, making it his own baliwick, with the entire current officer and administrative leadership put in place by Ri and his immediate subordinates. They are all beholden and personally loyal to Ri.

 

With the capital securely in his pocket, Ri was promoted to Chief of General Staff of the Korean People’s Army in 2009. In other words, he became the general commanding all the other generals in the KPA. Now that’s a very big stick.

 

Still in Kim Jong-il’s good graces, Ri took the final step up to the winner’s podium in September 2010 as part of the major reshuffling that accompanied little Kim Jong-un’s coming-out party as the Great Successor to the Dear Leader.

 

First, Ri was promoted to the rank of vice-marshal (I’ll explain where that fits in soon) — the only KPA vice-marshal to be appointed in the 21st Century — just as other older, less trusted vice-marshals were forcibly put out to pasture.

 

As I said before, Ri is now one of only three currently active KPA vice-marshals.

 

 

The Killer Elite

 

Here’s a rundown of how the top end of the North Korean military hierarchy works.

 

Supreme Commander

An omnipotent position only held by Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Position currently vacant.

 

Chairman, National Defence Commission

Executive position held only by Kim Jong-il. Position currently vacant.

 

Vice-chairmen, National Defence Commission

Purported heir Kim Jong-un and Vice-Marshal Kim Yong-chun currently hold these positions, the most senior military post held by any living person in North Korea. And only one of the two actually counts.

 

Dae Wonsu — Grand Marshal

A rank created for Kim Il-sung and held only by him (as far as North Korea goes anyway, since other countries, college football bowls and Santa Claus parades also have/had grand marshals).

 

Wonsu — Marshal

There are two divisions of this rank.

Only Kim Jong-il has ever held the rank of Marshal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The others-eligible rank of Marshal of the Korean People’s Army has no active placeholders. The last two senile ancients to hold the rank were forced into retirement in 2009 and 2010 (although Marshal Ri Ul-sol was trotted out for a couple of photo ops with Kim Jong-il as recently as spring 2011).

 

Chasu — Vice-Marshal

The working man’s five-star general. Five years ago there were eight men holding the rank. Today, because of deaths and forced retirements, there are only three active vice-marshals. Those three are Ri Yong-ho; his co-conspirator Kim Yong-chun, an erstwhile drinking and hunting buddy of Kim Jong-il and vice-chair of the NDC; and the wild card, Ri Yong-mu.

I say wild card because Ri Yong-mu should be considered to have the strongest ties to the Kim dynasty of the three vice-marshals — he was, after all, Kim Jong-il’s uncle by marriage. But Ri fell out of favour in the late 1970s for opposing Kim Jong-il’s nomination as successor to Kim Il-sung and for associating with “anti-KJi personalities.” After a stint of re-education and seeing the error of his ways, this Ri was rehabilitated in the mid-1980s and reintegrated into the KPA command structure. Kim Jong-il apparently forgave his uncle enough (or found it expeditious enough) to appoint him vice-marshal in 1998 as part of the ongoing military takeover of all authority in North Korea.

Although he still holds an active commission in the KPA, Ri is now a very old man and has been kept out  a central operational role in the KPA for years. Plus, you really have to wonder if there isn’t still a lingering resentment/hatred for Kim Jong-il burning away in his un-rehabilitated gut that has now been transferred to the young’un, Kim Jong-un. He may not be part of the generals’ junta but he also is unlikely to cause them trouble. Although you never know with ornery, spiteful, self-important old coots.

All three vice-marshals, by the way, are also members of the politburo of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee, thus keeping their hands on the political as well as military tiller.

 

Daejang — 4-star general

The commanders of all branches of the KPA — ground, naval, air, missile and special operations forces — all hold this rank, plus regional commanders and some senior members of the general staff. This is where the junta members come from, along with the two vice-marshals previously named.

 

Sangjang — 3-star general

 

Chungjang — 2-star general

 

Sojang — 1-star general

 

Our pal Ri Yong-ho, as well as being chief of the KPA, also currently holds power on the political side of the spectrum as one three remaining members of the presidium of the politburo of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

 

There used to be five members, but another vice-marshal, Jo Myong-rok, died in November 2010, shortly after being elevated to office, and Dear Leader Kim Jong-il also sat on the presidium before his death.

 

Ri is also vice-chairman (top dog now that chairman Kim is dead) of the Workers’ Party Central Military Commission. So nobody without a uniform gets to the military going through Vice-Marshals Ri Yong-ho or Kim Yong-chun.

 

Because Kim Yong-chun, besides being Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, is vice-chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission. Again, Vice-Marshal and Vice-Chairman Kim is head honcho of that controlling body now that the Dear Leader, Chairman Kim Jong-il, is dearly departed.

 

Kim Yong-chun may look like a kindly old grandfather, but he’s a bloodthirsty Stalinist thug who once famously said he would gladly shoot every member of the civilian political elite in Pyongyang. As one of the generals who broke the party cadres’ power in the mid-’90s, Kim Yong-chun despises them. I think North Korea’s governmental bureaucrats and technocrats are walking on eggshells (more than ever) right now.

 

At 75, Kim Yong-chun is a youngish member of the older generation of generals. Part of his job is to keep those tough old birds in line and satisfied.

 

Ri Yong-ho, at 69, may not seem that much younger but he’s part of an entirely different generation of the KPA officer class — the current operational commanders — and they report directly to him as Chief of the KPA Genral Staff.

 

Joining Vice-Marshals Ri and Kim at the head of the junta table is another hardliner, Daejang (4-star general) Kim Jong-gak. This Kim is a close collaborator with Ri and is head of political indoctrination and surveillance for the Korean People’s Army. He also sits with Ri on the WPK  Central Military Commission. He, like Kim Yong-chun, is also an alternate member of the party’s Central Committee Politburo.

4-stat-kim-jong-gak

Kim Jong-gak

In total there are probably half a dozen — no more than eight — generals now running North Korea. Call them a junta or call them a military executive or just call them sir, but don’t for a minute think anyone else holds power in that benighted country.

 

Here are the names of a few other generals who might — or might not — be on the board of directors of KPA/North Korea Inc.:

 

Gen. Ri Pyong-choi (air force commander)

Gen. Jong Myong-do (navy commander)

Gen. Kim Kyok-sik (commander of KPA western region)

 

4-star-ju-sang-song

Gen. Ju Sang-song (state security)

gen-u-tong-chuk

Gen. U Tong-chuk (state security)

 

That’s about it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

NorthKoreaBestKorea

As we sail into the sunset, let’s take a look at a few more of the delightful photos of Kim Jong-il supplied by the Korean Central News Agency over the years. Try to figure out  which of the many versions of Kim Jong-il are the real McKim and which are roadshow imposters. (The doubles, by the way, were probably dead and buried before the real Kim’s death was announced.)

For starters, let’s look at side-by-side photos that Reuters says show a double (left) and the genuine dictator (right). The photo of the replicant on the left was taken in 2008 when the real Kim was in deep seclusion, recovering from a stroke he suffered earlier that year. The real deal on the right is a 2003 photo.

Double2008Real2003

Clinton

The real Kim with Bill Clinton on Aug. 4, 2009

Clinton

Frail

Frail but real, April  2009

April

Sept

Sept, 9, 2005

Oct

Oct. 10, 2010

AlsoMay2011

May 2011

Aug

The photo above was taken Aug. 24, 2011. The photo below was taken Sept. 11, 2011 — less than three weeks later. You can’t tell me those two guys are the same person.

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I know the guy above is a double, probably the guy below too

movie-theatre

Now for some fun ones.

Jang-Kim-Orascom

 This is one of my favourites, just because everyone looks so sloshed and they’re holding hands. You know Kim Jong-il on the right, of course. (He looks the most sober of the three, but I think he just holds his liquor better — lots of practice.) On the left is Kim’s slimy brother-in-law, Jang Song-taek. The guy in the middle of this Jan. 23, 2010 love-in is Naguib Sawiris, then chairman of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom conglomerate, which has the contract to build North Korea’s G3 mobile network and which is the controlling interest behind Canada’s Wind Mobile (just mentioning that, in case any cell phone users wanted to know if their carrier is doing business, even second-hand, with a bloody dictatorship).

Dead-fish-walking

 Dead fish walking

plastic

To kick or not to kick (the bucket), that is the question

outstaring-corn

Obey me, corn

kim-jong-il-propaganda-posters-09-snowy-mountains

The End

 

 

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10 comments

  1. Theodore says:

    love it….bunch of fruitcakes threatening the rest of us…along with the idiot persians…unfortunately jimmy the coward carter was in the white house and turned his slimy back on the iranians in the late 70′s. that’s why we are in the position where we are concerned about the beasts again…where’s a Winston Churchill when you need one now. General Macgarther was exactly right back in the Korean war…we should have nuked the bastards right back into China.

  2. Berg says:

    What a wealth of important information and knowledge. How unfortunate it had to be dressed in high school level snideness and “cleverness.” It would be so much more valuable and impressive had the information been presented as though by an adult.

  3. alan.parker says:

    Sorry, Berg. If the serious, boring “analysts” did their jobs properly (or if the right ones were given a wider platform by major media), I wouldn’t have to do my snide, immature, half-assed (but better-informed) version. But I am what I am, so you just have to take the good with the bad ,,, and the ugly. Besides, what you interpret as snideness and “cleverness” is often just deep existential sadness and profound moral outrage dressed up in clown paint. Really.
    Alan

  4. Gerhard says:

    You seem to know more than the others out there. How comes such a smart guy as you are any expert in a decend magazine? You sell your assumptions as knowledge – thats poor.

  5. alan.parker says:

    Gerhard, learn to write a little better before you start criticizing others.

  6. John says:

    Gerhard’s bad spelling should be excused because his milk language may- and probably is German.

    Euripades said “Cleverness is not wisdom.”

    What I would really like to see is some estimate of the ages or birth dates of this bunch of bottom feeders, so that we could make some guesses as to how senile and out of touch they are.

    North Korea will fall when their farming population is suddenly unable to feed the military, and the military starves too many farmers, creating a famine spiral that leaves them with a military with no population to defend.

  7. alan.parker says:

    Hey John,
    I was responding to Gerhard’s lack of civility, not his inadequacy in expressing himself in English. I am neither clever or wise (in fact I’m not sure whether that should be “or” or “nor”) but I do a lot of research that not many other people do and I expect that to be recognized, whether others agree with my conclusions or not.
    I explained in the piece that the current military junta is dominated by young bloods (which means they’re in their 60s and 70s) but the old guard (in their 80s) still hold a powerful position of influence.
    The military will always be fed first. China is most worried about a North Korean famine because the current trickle of refugees/escapees will become a flood — a real danger to China — when the food crisis reaches starvation level.
    Ciao.
    Alan

  8. Rose says:

    Why has “Berg” sited “cleverness.” as if a citation from your article? Either way, wonderful to see such a zealous resuscitation of that desperate last resort of embittered school teachers who have just realised that their pupils are cleverer than them; Berg, “cleverness” in my opinion shouldn’t be discouraged. Slinging the word biliously at people alters the meaning somewhat.

    Fantastic article, thank you very much. Succinct, educational and witty.

  9. one of many eatern peoples says:

    i am only 13, so, Mr., is this a western propaganda blog????, i think u missed many things, first, the Korean Communists Regime is not a group of evils, u didn’t say that, but u have means to that. Second, his peoples love him, while US President always throe their people on war, real examples of this american madness was Goerge W Bush, and Richard Nixon, t5hey both throe their (Should) beloved nation to a war, many of their, “Meanless Peoples” was dead. while, every time a North Korean will eat, they say, “thank you the dearest leader”, it’s not a leader’s madness but, was American say that????, even while in date???, NO…, americans don’t, i maybe just 13, but i know politics great i think, if i wasn’t wrong, US peoples did anarchists action like demonstration to their Government that let the banks corrupt their own peoples…, what a government????. many things i wanna say but.., it will be very long… ., Thats all from one of the eastern peoples….

  10. Saad says:

    WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR STATEMENT “Stalin asked his secret police chief Beria to find him a suitable candidate and Beria, after a quick perusal of all those Koreans then working with the Russians, chose Kim Il-sung. “

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