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Dictatorships and Double Standards

Apr 22, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 30 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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There are plenty of ways that the New York Times could have chosen to refer to South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, whom Ethan Epstein profiled in these pages a few months back (“Democracy, Gangnam-Style,” December 17, 2012). In fact, The Scrapbook would probably have chosen just that: “South Korea’s new president.” Still, it was at least moderately defensible when the Grey Lady called President Park the “daughter of a famed South Korean dictator from the cold war” in a news story on Korean relations published last week. Even if the reference was a bit of a non -sequitur, it’s true that President Park’s father, Park Chung-hee, was the autocratic leader of South Korea from 1961 to 1979.

The Koreas

Here’s what’s not defensible. Several paragraphs earlier in that very same article, the Times referred to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un—who also happens to be the son of Kim Jong-il and grandson of Kim Il-sung, two notoriously cruel and Stalinist despots—as “the North’s new leader.” But what can we expect from the newspaper that still calls Saddam “Mr. Hussein”?

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