Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kimjongilia Mania

The Kimjongilia festival, celebrated around the Dear Leader's birthday celebration, was joined this year not only by the Spring Festival, but also the Six Party Talks deal. (One report claims that, among the bevies of foreigners showering Kim Jong-il with presents, a North Korean official claimed South Koreans "from all walks of life" grew Kimjongilia and sent it to Kim for the festival.)

The spin in the West has been all over the place--but a lot of it has been negative, claiming that the US sold out, that Japan was disregarded, and that South Korea has to foot the bill. In North Korea, as is to be expected, the state is distorting the details to make the deal look better for them than it is. According to Chosun Ilbo, the DPRK official news agency is telling its people that they will receive 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil that in exchange for only a temporary suspension of it's nuclear facilities, instead of disabling them entirely, as the agreement actually claims--and even then, the agreement only guarantees 50,000 tons up front.

The DPRK has also apparently given the country--including people in the border regions--an unusual five-day holiday to celebrate the concurrence of Kim's birthday and the Spring Festival. The catch is that they have to wear traditional dress, which according to the report, people are too busy worrying how to feed themselves to do. (The report is worth reading for the contents of gift bags handed out, one of which includes candles from China and acorn wine.)

In an odd coincidence, in South Korea, there is a new "Han" plan to revitalize Korean culture--one of the parts of which would be to give citizens incentives to wear traditional costumes around in daily life.

And, just because it's such an odd thing, here is an article comparing Kim Jong-il and Pres. Bush. It's fairly controversial, including this:

Personality-wise, both leaders can best be described as malignant narcissists. They both betray what the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders calls “an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity,” a “need for admiration or adulation,” and a “lack of empathy.” This is likely a common set of traits for world leaders, but Kim’s personality cult and Bush’s quest for world domination elevate their grandiosity to a higher plane.

Thank goodness we don't have to deal with "Dubyailia".

1 comment:

Jaime said...

First of all, WOW! to the Kimjongilia. I'm in awe at how it was engineered to bloom on Kim Jong-Il's birthday. (And I second your relief at the lack of a bushilia.)

The concurrance of Kim Jong-Il's birthday with the Lunar New Year seems like a strategic way to connect Kim Jong-Il to long-standing Korean cultural traditions and serves to further legitimize his rule. I think whenever people actively participate in rituals, they are further bound to ideas and often the political agenda that the rituals celebrate.