Celebrations on a North Korea scale

December 29, 2011 by Joshua
in NorthKorea

When North Korea holds an event, they do it on scales few others match, though they are announcing only their third leader since 1948, so you can understand their enthusiasm.

Here is the site of the rally declaring Kim Jong-un’s succession to Supreme Leader when we visited.Kim Il Sung Square (I think that's the name)The New York Times published this picture of the rally today

Announcing Kim Jong UnWow, that’s a lot of people. Very tightly ordered too.

The first thing I think of when I see this many people at a state capital is Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech (with the Washington Monument foreshadowing the Juche tower). I wonder if (when?) North Korea will ever host a comparable grass-roots rally where people come because they want to, expecting to create more freedom.

Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech crowdThe article continues to mis-apply the great-man model. Assuming if something happens the leader must be causing it leads them to write things like

How much he has consolidated his grip on power before his father’s death — and whether he would have to depend on caretakers or even regents — remain topics of intense speculation and contention among outside analysts. All indications from the North, however, suggest that at least in the public eye, he will not share power with anyone.

The implication that anyone would oppose his holding power makes little sense to me. I can see how some might benefit from trying to get some power, but at a cost to stability and loyalty, the two governing principles of anyone with influence. So I expect no one has a net gain in competing for power. Whereas everyone gains from a leader young enough to stay in power for another forty years (stability!) who is the son and grandson of their previous great leaders (loyalty!)

EDIT:  misperceptions of North Korea in the media as described in this post, leading to misunderstanding how we understand and commincate with North Koreans, led me to write my ebook Understanding North Korea: Demystifying the World’s Most Misunderstood Country. I wrote the book to help increase understanding, communication, and freedom.

Joshua Spodek Understanding North Korea cover

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