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The Irony of Kim's Cruelty

10:48 AM, Dec 13, 2013 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
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Even after 65 years of hideous barbarity, the murderousness of the Kim regime still holds the capacity to shock. Korea-watchers are baffled at the news that Kim Jong-un had his uncle and former mentor, Jang Song-thaek, summarily executed for “treason” this week. (For analysis of the events leading to Jang’s purge and execution, see Dennis C. Halpin’s piece in this week’s magazine.)

Kim Jong Eun

Kim Jong Eun

There’s an irony here. Since the establishment of their dictatorship, the Kims have held themselves as guardians of traditional Korean culture, protecting true ‘Korean-ness’ against the Japanese, the Americans, and the South Korean ‘puppet regime.’ (Kim Il-sung, for example, the founder of the dictatorship, was actually born Kim Song-ju. He took the name ‘Il-sung’ to associate himself with a famed guerilla fighter who took on the Japanese.)

In Korea, a country steeped in Confucianism, the family is of the utmost importance. Veneration for ones’ elders is also an important component of the structure of Korean society. In sum, there could be nothing less “Korean” than what Kim Jong-un has just done: killed a member of his own family, and an elder, no less. But then, up has always been down in the fallaciously named “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”  

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