Korean Word of the Day: 막무가내

This word, pronounced mak-mu-ga-nae, roughly translates to that most untranslatable of Yiddish words:  chutzpah.

On Tuesday, North Korea had the chutzpah to demand (막무가내로 우기다) that the U.N. Security Council apologize for the flaccid non-binding presidential statement it offered in lieu of any meaningful enforcement of the two Security Council resolutions North Korea’s recent missile test violated:

The UNSC should promptly make an apology for having infringed the sovereignty of the DPRK and withdraw all its unreasonable and discriminative “resolutions” and decisions adopted against the DPRK.

North Korea’s very ridiculousness can be (if this is the right word) disarming.  It’s hard to take a man, even a democidal tyrant, seriously when he resembles an unkempt fishwife or when his state media has a fondness for peculiar words like “brigandish.”  This dismissive consequence of ridicule has a way of obscuring the depth and scale of Kim Jong Il’s brutality, a case of mass political cleansing that has had no equal in this world since Pol Pot’s overthrow.

But at least we’ll be spared the sight of Kim Jong Il’s face on coffee mugs and tote bags.  A million deaths is a statistic, but a bad haircut will not stand among the right-thinking.

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