Is anyone else getting nervous about the situation in Korea?
North Korea has been talking tough again, threatening to strike not only US targets overseas, but here in the homeland as well. Though this story has been percolating for weeks, it doesn’t seem to have risen to the level of urgency I’m afraid it will soon. And with the US ratcheting up its own response, this time, things feel different than the usual North Korean “saber rattling”.
So why does this story seem to be on the back burner? No doubt this is due to the source of the threat. Like the boy who cried wolf, the North Korean government hasn’t ever demonstrated much restraint in its official communications. Have you seen this propaganda video about the way Americans live?
Some of the official news reports and communications, particularly surrounding the former “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il, are so comical it makes it almost impossible to take anything North Korea is saying seriously.
Take, for example, the time that the previous Kim took credit for inventing the hamburger. His state-run media reported that he shot multiple holes-in-one during his first-ever attempt at golf. He also was able, according to official biographies, to control the weather - with his mind. The list of ridiculous achievements he was supposedly capable of was impressive.
But behind the laugh-out-loud absurdity is incredible cruelty. Even the legends turn dark, and one wonders how many of them are true. He supposedly injected himself with the blood of virgins to stay young. He once tricked the short people of Pyongyang into showing up to receive a drug that would make them grow taller – only to have them rounded up and taken to points unknown. And crossing the line from legend to confirmed reality, fearing that one would remove him from power, Kim Jong-Il confiscated all triplets from their parents in 2003 and had them placed in state-run orphanages for indoctrination.
The truth is, though much of what happens in North Korea seems absurd to the outside world, the people of the most isolated nation on Earth are facing horrifying hardship.
North Korea is the world’s only communist dynasty. And with Kim Jong-Il’s son, Kim Jong-Un, now in power, things haven’t gotten better. The indoctrination of the North Korean people compels love and something bordering on worship for the “Dear Leader”. The world watched in shocked horror at the displays of hysteria put on by the North Korean people at the death of Kim Jong-Il. Reports have since surfaced that these displays were mandatory. Those individuals who were found not genuine or emphatic enough in their emotional outpouring over the death of their leader wound up sentenced to labor camps. Labor camps that are growing in size and number, and are utilized for “re-education” as well as slave labor. These concentration camps are a death sentence for many, and most who are sent there disappear forever, regardless of the length of their sentence.
Late last year, satellite imagery showed the country’s lack of electrical infrastructure, leaving the people to live in primitive conditions. Recently, reports of famine-induced cannibalism have been surfacing, including the shocking claim that people are killing and eating their own children just to survive — this despite the fact that the Kim family lives in opulence, feasting, drinking, and carousing while their people are reduced to barbarism. North Korea is a Pandora’s Box of horrors. The more you dig, the more you find.
I have a sinking suspicion that Kim Jong-Un has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. The Kim family is now in its third generation of power. After 65 years of family rule, how can Kim Jong-Un make his mark except by being bolder and more twisted than his father and grandfather before him?
With tensions between North and South Korea (and by extension, the US) escalating, Reuters reports that we are now sending F-22 Raptors to South Korea to take part in our ongoing game of military chicken with the North. Buried in the story, I found that Pope Francis expressed his own concerns about the situation in the Korean peninsula in his Easter address:
Sabre-rattling on the Korean peninsula drew a plea for peace from Pope Francis, who in his first Easter Sunday address called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
“Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow,” he said, speaking in Italian.
This is a bad situation, and it’s getting worse. Even if it doesn’t come to a head in a military conflict, the people in North Korea are desperate and need help. I’m no expert, but based on what I’ve seen and read, North Korea is quite possibly the most oppressive nation in the world.
This is a situation that warrants much prayer. Not just for peace and diplomacy, but for the liberation and aid of the North Korean people.