Not one of the Spice Girls: “Without parallel in the contemporary world”

February 14, 2018

If you are part of the family that runs the world’s most oppressive state and locks up much of its own population in slave labor camps, it seems many western journalists will gasp in admiration

 

CONTENTS

1. The cult of celebrity becomes especially dangerous when applied to the Kim dynasty
2. Not one of the Spice Girls
3. Her day job
4. Defending the indefensible: Hitler, Stalin and Mao, and Otto Warmbier
5. “The media should stop fawning over Kim Jong Un’s sister. She’s an emissary of a vicious regime” (By Max Boot, Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2018)
6. “Kim Yo Jong is a Twisted Sister. She holds a key post in Pyongyang’s fearsome and brutal Propaganda and Agitation Department” (By Claudia Rosett, Wall St Journal, Feb. 14, 2018)

 

THE CULT OF CELEBRITY BECOMES ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS WHEN APPLIED TO THE KIM DYNASTY

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is one of an occasional series of dispatches that doesn’t concern the Middle East, though it does concern the media.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve become friends with a number of North Korean exiles and dissidents that I’ve met over the years when I was speaking on the Middle East at international human right conferences. The suffering they have described is horrific. (In the past, I have criticized the media, in particular the New York Times, for all but ignoring human rights in North Korea.)

I attach two pieces, one from yesterday’s Washington Post, the other from today’s Wall Street Journal. (Both are by subscribers to this list.) There are extracts first, and then a short note on anti-Israel, pro-North Korean regime western academics and writers.

 

EXTRACTS

NOT ONE OF THE SPICE GIRLS

Max Boot writes:

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the despot Kim Jong Un, is being treated as if she were one of the Spice Girls. A headline blared: “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics.” One article claimed: “North Korea has emerged as the early favorite to grab one of the Winter Olympics’ most important medals: the diplomatic gold.” Another declared: “They marveled at her barely-there makeup and her lack of bling. They commented on her plain black outfits and simple purse. They noted the flower-shaped clip that kept her hair back in a no-nonsense style.” …

The breathless coverage given to Kim Yo Jong’s visit is not only vapid, it is dangerous and disgusting. This is the modern-day equivalent of celebrating Paula Hitler, Adolf’s sister, or Joseph Stalin’s children, except that Kim Yo Jong is more complicit in totalitarianism than they were.

A UN Commission of Inquiry in 2014 that concluded that North Korea is guilty of “crimes against humanity,” including “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation… The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”

 

HER DAY JOB

Claudia Rosett writes:

Ms. Kim, with her freckles and enigmatic smile, is a trained and trusted royal brainwasher for a family regime whose court is built on totalitarian lies. Her admirers in the media ought to be impressed by the professionalism with which she snookered them…

Missing from most of the media coverage was any detail about Ms. Kim’s day job in Pyongyang. In North Korea this kid sister has served under Big Brother as a deputy director of the powerful and omnipresent Propaganda and Agitation Department. She has apparently racked up a record so stellar that last year the U.S. Treasury blacklisted her as a top North Korean official tied to “notorious abuses of human rights.” …

A detailed report published last year by the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, described the Propaganda and Agitation Department as playing “a key role in justifying Kim family rule through domestic and external propaganda.” They added that entire families may be punished if one member is suspected of dissent. The aim is to ensure the survival, glorification and total power of the Kim regime and its hereditary tyrant.

That’s the training and family tradition behind Ms. Kim’s visit to South Korea. Her delegation included plenty of backup, such as Choe Hwi, a vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department who has been blacklisted by the U.S. (and the U.N.) for human-rights abuses. The Treasury noted that Mr. Choe “has reportedly been responsible for maintaining ideological purity.” Currently he is chairman of North Korea’s National Sports Guidance Committee.

 

DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE: HITLER, STALIN AND MAO, AND OTTO WARMBIER

Tom Gross adds:

Just as plenty of western academics defended Hitler, Stalin and Mao, there are some American and west European professors who defend the North Korean regime – and as I have pointed out, they tend to be the very same ones who are the leading lights of anti-Israel movements on campus.

For example, I wrote in this dispatch about virulent anti-Israel activist Kathy Dettwyler, a professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware, who wrote that young American-Jewish student Otto Warmbier, who went on a tourist trip to North Korea while on a study abroad program in China, only be arrested on fabricated charges of taking down a poster, tortured, and returned brain dead last year by North Korea, “got exactly what he deserved”.

In another dispatch last year, I pointed out that North Korea was hosting French Muslim anti-Semitic “comedian” Dieudonné whose “jokes” mock and deride Holocaust victims, and, Franco-Swiss author and director Alain Soral, a former communist who was then kicked out of the French far-right National Front for his repeated extreme anti-Semitism, including saying “Hitler should have finished the job”.


ARTICLES

THE MEDIA SHOULD STOP FAWNING OVER KIM JONG UN’S SISTER. SHE’S AN EMISSARY OF A VICIOUS REGIME

The media should stop fawning over Kim Jong Un’s sister. She’s an emissary of a vicious regime.
By Max Boot
The Washington Post
February 13, 2018

As far back as 1962, the historian and author Daniel J. Boorstin lamented the replacement of real news with the “pseudo-event,” a “synthetic novelty” manufactured by “round-the-clock media,” as well as the replacement of the hero – someone such as Joan of Arc, William Shakespeare or George Washington “who has shown greatness in some achievement” – with the “celebrity,” whom the author described as “a person who is well known for his well-known-ness.” Little could Boorstin have imagined that pseudo-events and celebrities would take over not just our culture but also our politics.

After years of drowning in coverage of Princess Diana, Madonna, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, “The Real Housewives,” Kate Middleton and, of course, the Kardashians, it was only natural that voters would select a reality-television star as president. The cult of celebrity, having already disfigured our domestic politics, is now infecting foreign policy as well.

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the despot Kim Jong Un, is being treated as if she were one of the Spice Girls. A headline blared: “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics.” One article claimed: “North Korea has emerged as the early favorite to grab one of the Winter Olympics’ most important medals: the diplomatic gold.” Another declared: “They marveled at her barely-there makeup and her lack of bling. They commented on her plain black outfits and simple purse. They noted the flower-shaped clip that kept her hair back in a no-nonsense style.”

Poor Vice President Pence. After agreeing to play second fiddle to a third-rate celebrity in the White House, he found himself at the Olympics overshadowed by someone who makes President Trump look like an intellectual and moral giant. The breathless coverage given to Kim Yo Jong’s visit – the first by a member of the royal Kim clan to the South – is not only vapid, it is dangerous and disgusting. This is the modern-day equivalent of celebrating Paula Hitler, Adolf’s sister, or Joseph Stalin’s children, except that Kim Yo Jong is more complicit in totalitarianism than they were.

The United Nations’ Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea concluded in 2014 that the North is guilty of “crimes against humanity,” including “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.” As the UN experts put it: “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”

The report goes on to detail a sickening litany of abuse. To take one example at random, consider the actions of the State Security Department, North Korea’s secret police: “In August 2011, SSD agents arrested the 17-year old son of the witness in Hoeryoung City, North Hamgyong Province for watching South Korean movies. He was so badly tortured that his left ankle was shattered and his face was bruised and grossly disfigured. The SSD only released him after the family raised a large bribe. Shortly after his release, the boy died from a brain hemorrhage from which he suffered as a result of the beatings endured under interrogation.”

Far from making this system more humane, Kim Jong Un has added some perverse touches of his own. He has ordered the executions of his own uncle and half-brother – in the latter case using a weapon of mass destruction (the deadly nerve agent VX) at a busy international airport. He also reportedly had his own defense minister blown apart with anti-aircraft guns for falling asleep during one of his harangues.

None of this is a reason for Trump to preemptively attack North Korea because it is developing a nuclear-tipped ICBM capable of hitting the United States. Deterrence and containment are the right way to deal with the North, just as we have dealt with the far bigger threat from Russia for decades. But nor should revulsion at Trump’s saber-rattling lead anyone to go to the opposite extreme and imagine that North Korea is a possible partner for peace.

The only reason Kim Jong Un is reaching out to South Korea – he has offered to host President Moon Jae-in for a summit in Pyongyang – is to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul. The Kim family strategy has remained unchanged since the 1950s: Convince the United States to remove its troops from South Korea, and coerce the South into reunification on the North’s terms. In other words, extend the gulag across the entire Korean Peninsula.

It is pathetic to see so much of the media play into Kim’s evil hands with breathless coverage of his little sister at the Winter Olympics – a “pseudo-event” if there was one.

 

KIM YO JONG IS A TWISTED SISTER

Kim Yo Jong is a Twisted Sister
She holds a key post in Pyongyang’s fearsome and brutal Propaganda and Agitation Department.
By Claudia Rosett
The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 14, 2018

Who is Kim Yo Jong ? “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics,” declared a CNN.com headline. This princess of Pyongyang received a royal welcome from South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. He seated her in his VIP box, near Vice President Mike Pence, for the opening ceremony. He hosted her for lunch at the presidential Blue House, where she delivered him an invitation for a summit with Mr. Kim. The resulting Reuters headline: “North Korea heading for diplomacy gold medal at the Olympics.”

Missing from most of the media coverage was any detail about Ms. Kim’s day job in Pyongyang. In North Korea this kid sister has served under Big Brother as a deputy director of the powerful and omnipresent Propaganda and Agitation Department. She has apparently racked up a record so stellar that last year the U.S. Treasury blacklisted her as a top North Korean official tied to “notorious abuses of human rights.” Mr. Kim gave her an alternate seat on his politburo.

In blacklisting Ms. Kim, the Treasury specified that her department “controls all media in the country, which the government uses to control the public.” That’s an understatement. The Propaganda and Agitation Department’s mission is to control not only media but minds – to indoctrinate all North Koreans, at all levels, in the absolute supremacy of Kim Jong Un and his Workers’ Party.

A 2014 report by a special United Nations commission on human rights in North Korea found that “there is an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” That entails a pervasive normalization of evil. Any deviation is suppressed via imprisonment, torture and execution. The commission found the regime carries out crimes against humanity on a scale “that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”

In a detailed report published last year by the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Robert Collins and Amanda Mortwedt Oh described the Propaganda and Agitation Department as playing “a key role in justifying Kim family rule through domestic and external propaganda.” They added that entire families may be punished if one member is suspected of dissent. The aim is to ensure the survival, glorification and total power of the Kim regime and its hereditary tyrant.

That’s the training and family tradition behind Ms. Kim’s visit to South Korea. Her delegation included plenty of backup, such as Choe Hwi, a vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department who has been blacklisted by the U.S. (and the U.N.) for human-rights abuses. The Treasury noted that Mr. Choe “has reportedly been responsible for maintaining ideological purity.” Currently he is chairman of North Korea’s National Sports Guidance Committee.

Ms. Kim, with her freckles and enigmatic smile, is a trained and trusted royal brainwasher for a family regime whose court is built on totalitarian lies. Her admirers in the media ought to be impressed by the professionalism with which she snookered them.

 

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