We’re still waiting to see who’s willing to print Selig Harrison’s requiem for Kim Jong Il, but in the meantime, there are plenty of tools out there who say that Kim Jong Il was really just misunderstood. First up is pretty much what you’d expect from the British left:
But seeing how South Korea has turned out — its Koreanness utterly submerged in neon, hip-hop and every imaginable American influence, a romantic can allow himself a small measure of melancholy: North Korea, for all its faults, is undeniably still Korea, a place uniquely representative of an ancient and rather remarkable Asian culture. And that, in a world otherwise rendered so bland, is perhaps no bad thing. [Simon Winchester, whoever that is, via WSJ Ideas Market Blog]
My favorite, however, is this Daily Kos post:
We have to realize that much of what is written about North Korea is for popular digestion regarding potential invasion. Let’s face it, North Korea is ripe for capitalism, there are millions of potential workers who will work for near nothing. The hope is that the regime will crumble like the Soviet Union and give way to massive investment opportunities. [....]
While North Korea may behave in a strange fashion at times, its political history is no less responsible toward its own citizens than the history of the South, especially the recent history that was dominated in the 1960s to 1980s by dictatorial regimes that practiced torture and mass arrest. While we hear of starvation and torture in North Korea, these are far less well documented than the recent history of the South. As for the nuclear weapons issue, we should also recall that the USA has been the only country to use nuclear weapons, and we used them on civilians. If the world is to be afraid of the use of these weapons by a renegade nation, one should look at the definition of the word in the context of the Bush Administration waging war in violation of international law and by the use of evidence it knew was tainted. We cannot expect a world of law and respect after such behavior. [Niccolo Caldararo, Daily Kos, via to Doug Bandow]
All of which is a bit much … even for the commenters at DKos. It’s such a logically decrepit argument that it attempts to use the 2003 invasion of Iraq to confer immunity on North Korea’s dynastic rulers for a completely preventable famine that began in the 1990′s, a nuclear program that began in the 1980′s, and a gulag system that dates back to the 1950s. Even our old friend Christine Ahn didn’t go that far in an uncharacteristically half-hearted defense of Kim Jong Il’s “mixed legacy,” portraying him more as a victim than a hero, and at least Ahn manages to understand the concept of chronology (in Ahn’s case, this is progress).
Personally, I would sooner call Eichmann a Holocaust survivor — well, technically, he was! — than Kim Jong Il a victim or a hero, and if the internet had existed half a century ago, I don’t doubt that some morally retarded person would have.