It was--or is still--a favourite sport of the North Korean 'informed' clerisy to make fun of North Korea's wooden phraseology.
The emergence of Kim Jong eun's corporeal existence at the Korean Workers Party in Pyongyang this week, has opened the floodgates of commentary. Who is he? What do we really know of him?
Seeing Kim Jong eun in flesh and blood was a novelty for the Clerisy and grist for the media mills. And an occasion for self parody and embarassment by the same.
The first thing a North Korean watcher says: 'We know next to nothing about the younger Kim'. But that does not stop him from enlarging on his scope of his ignorance for a hook to hang his uninformed pronouncements.
First, let's say what is the information we do have. Kim Jong eun is Kim Jong il's third and youngest son. He is between 26 and 28, but no one can for sure provide the year of his birth. He was not his father's first choice, but owing to his eldest brother's disgrace, the honour fell to him. As for his schooling, he did go to a lycee or gymnasium in Switzerland. Thus, we can infer that he may speak German or French and English, yet we don't know for certain. He then is somewhat acquainted with the wiles and ways of the west.
We also recently know that he has been promoted to the rank of a four star general and appointed vice chairman of a powerful military committee. And that's all we know. To go beyond that leads us to be sucked into frivolous banter.
Now let's look at some of the Clerisy's pronouncements on the 'young general'.
As an expert called to comment in print or on the radio or television, the cleric has to dress up gossip or contempt in the wraps of scholarship or long experience of dealing with folklore about North Korea.
The cleric to prove his 'bona fides' has to endow Kim Jong eun with a 'news angle', with 'novelty' by lavishing a ruinous amount of questionable intelligence, imagination, and literary skill for caricature.
Let's begin with the first photographs of Kim Jong eun: 'Here is a kid who's got to have the puffiest cheeks in his father's fiefdom'. Since this journalist with more than 30 years in covering the divided Korean peninsula cannot conduct a a study of the 'kid's' skull, indicative of the younger Kim's character and mental faculties, he falls backs on reading his cheeks. And to drive home, his projection of the man's truculence, cruelty, and coldness, he dwells on 'the set of his mouth and hands'.
Others also have judged him by photos: We see an unsmiling Mr. Kim. From his appearance, we learn that he is incapble of smiling; this impression re enforces his wilful and cruel side. A clear eye would have immediately grasp the attitude of seriousness which group photos of Communist party congresses. Every one assumes de rigeur a seriousness with clenched fists: this attitude projects the image of a leadership conscious of its duties to the nation, its citizenry, and its welfare and continuance.
Still others have not hesitated to define him as a 'rubber stamp', wet behind the ears, a marionette of Party and military elders. It is as though the inexperienced Kim Jong eun had already seized the reins of power from his father. Eyewash. A quick googling would reveal that he is being put through his paces by the older generation which has more or less been in place since the Korean War. He is learning the ropes of statecraft the way his father did, albeit perhaps at an accelerated rate.
And others have analyised the sitting of pecking order on the Congress' dais, with the willingness of a Hollywood film critic. This exercise in decor tells us little other than the place Kim Jong eun now holds. But these 'film reviewers' miss is the salient pose of Kim Jong il. Relaxed, he sits now in the centre but to the right with folded hands whilst others including his son sits frozen in seriousness with clenched fists on his legs. This detail is most revealing the more especially since it tells us that Kim Jong il holds supreme power in North Korea. Which is not what the Clerisy is intimating or telling us.
More egregious in a inane foolish way was the editor of the prestigeous quarterly of the Council on Foreign Relations "Foreign Affairs". On a radio interview on NPR [National Public Radio] he indicted Kim Jong eun as the architect of the failed currency reform, without a shred of proof.
On the whole, GuamDiary finds that the much quoted and highly paid and "respected" Clerisy betray a lack of seriousness and commit the cardinal sin of caricature. We also find irrelevance and false puff up claims of 'expertise'.