Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge



kim-jong-il “North Korea has stepped up its threats to deploy nuclear weapons to defend itself as the families of two US journalists sentenced to 12 years’ hard labour called on Pyongyang to show compassion…” reports the Irish Times this morning. The unthinkable horrors of life in the Hermit Kingdom has been preying on my mind lately. So much so, that I’m planning a visit there later this year.

Below is a piece I wrote about Kim Jong-Il two years ago for Mongrel’s Freedom Haters list. Afterwards, there are links to some even more jaw-dropping stories about the Dear Leader and his degenerate regime:

He lives in a tacky, seven-storey ‘pleasure palace’, with an army of flunkeys and a fleet of luxury cars. When he travels, he has live lobsters airlifted daily to his armored personal train, and he spends more on Hennessey cognac per week than his average countryman earns in fifteen years. His sense of self-worth, meanwhile, is inflated light years beyond the point of delusion. Suffice to say, if Kim Jong-Il were a rapper rather than a dictator, we’d probably view his eccentriticies more benignly. Fuck threatening sanctions, we’d give the guy a reality show. According to his official biography, Kim Jong-Il was born on the slopes of Mount Paektu, the mythical birthplace of the Korean nation, in February 1942. “At the time of his birth there were flashes of lightening and thunder” it reports. “The iceberg in the pond on Mount Paektu emitted a mysterious sound as it broke, and bright double rainbows rose up.” Official biographers also claim that his birth was foretold by a swallow, and heralded by the appearance of a new star in the heavens.

As well as being an invincible military commander, and benevolent leader, Kim is also a champion athlete, talented architect, gifted filmmaker and (bizarrely) North Korea’s leading fashion designer. Furthermore, Kim as the happy knack of “turning misfortunes into blessings, and adversities into favorable conditions, thus leading the Korean revolution to continuous upsurge and brilliant victory.”

Call me a cynic if you will, but I’m starting to suspect that this guy’s C.V. may actually contain a couple of embellishments.

This much then we know for sure about the reclusive North Korean leader: He came to power in 1994 on the death of his father, Eternal President Kim Il-Sung, thus confirming the establishment of the world’s first Stalinist monarchy. He presides over a basket case economy, and commands the fourth largest standing army in the world, with the highest percentage of military personnel per capita of any nation on earth. His ‘Military First’ policy kept that army well fed during the famines of the mid-1990s, when as many as 2m North Koreans died of starvation.

The best insights into Kim’s personality come from Shin Sang-ok, a South Korean film director kidnapped by North Korea in 1978. After five years in a re-education camp, Shin was released and given a budget of $3m a year to make films. He found the North Korean leader’s grip on reality sometimes tenuous. Kim, for example, believed his favorite James Bond and Rambo films to be real. Other times he appeared quite self-aware. When a large crowd cheered him at a party once, the leader patted Shin’s hand and said, “That’s all fake, by the way.”

Kim Jong-Il is hands-down the worst person on this list. On one of the tapes Shin took with him when he eventually escaped, the tyrant tacitly admits that all North Korea’s brutal regimine of official rape, torture and murder serves no purpose other than keeping himself in power. But all indications suggest that, unless attacked first, he is not a danger to any of his neighbours. If he is to be overthrown, the impetus for that change will most come from within his regime. Until then, North Korea’s 23 million citizens will endure an Orwellian existence the like of which the rest of us can only imagine.

In the intervening two years, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with this repulsive man and the sick, disfunctional society he presides over:

* You’re probably aware that North Korean agents routinely kidnaps foreign nationals at the Dear Leader’s whim.

* But did you know that he also presides over a vast criminal empire of counterfitting, car smuggling and drug dealing.

* Here’s the harrowing testimony of an escaped prisoner from one of the country’s brutal gulags…

* Of the kidnapped South Korean film director mentioned above…

* And of Kim’s sister-in-law Sung Hae Rang.

* Reports last week suggest that Kim has designated his obnoxious third son Kim Jong Un to be his successor.

* Given all of the above, does it not seem crass beyond, beyond belief that U.S. retailer CafePress is selling ironic, but nonetheless official, North Korean propaganda goodies on the D.P.R. Korea page of their online store.

* Finally, a wide range of entirely plausible opinions from around the world about the D.P.R.K.’s recent nuclear tests are aired on the country’s official English-language web forum.

Alex Finn from Ireland opines:

this will give a clear sign to imperialist trophy bargainers, frequenting various Asian countries,
and if given opportunity, they’d not dare to try even in the D.P.R.K.

the test may strengthen the souvereignity of other asian countries as well.
their leaders should congratulate D.P.R.K. openly


June 10th, 2009.


  1. Sean Says:

    I reckon that forum is written by Kim himself…

  2. Eoin Says:

    I reckon he kidnapped posters from other forums and forced them to toil in his evil internet dungeons…

  3. Conal Says:

    12 years hard labour, lets hope they dont read you blog buck. very ronrey.

  4. Sean Says:

    If you put that many bloggers in a room would you come up with a coherent sentence…

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