The Magazine

Dr. Kim, We Presume

Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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It's no secret that the value of an honorary degree—not to mention the value of an actual degree—has declined in recent years. Recently minted “Doctors” include Ben Affleck (Brown University), Jon Bon Jovi (Monmouth University), and Morgan Freeman (Boston University). Tufts University, meanwhile, gave one to Lance Armstrong in 2006 .  .  . only to rescind it last year after the cyclist copped to doping.

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But The Scrapbook can safely say that the honorary degree reached its nadir late last month when North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who presides over what is arguably the world’s poorest and most mismanaged economy, was awarded an honorary doctorate in economics by Malaysia’s improbably named HELP University. The president of the university, one Paul Chan, said he hoped that the degree would “build a bridge” with the North Korean people. (It’s not clear how honoring their unspeakably cruel ruler would further this goal.) But, if nothing else, The Scrapbook is pleased that it can now accurately refer to Kim Jong-un as Doctor Evil.

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