Wednesday, April 21, 2021


Dreaming of KJU

In my dream, Kim Jong Un has invited a large group of journalists and other non-governmental observers of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea to Pyongyang to meet with him personally.  In the run-up to the event, there is widespread speculation that it might lead to a breakthrough in solving all of the various geopolitical problems with their source in the DPRK, not because of the meeting itself, but because it might reflect a change of heart about engaging with the world in a positive way, coming from the very top.

The meeting is held in a rather nondescript function room at mid-day.  The invited journalists have been asked not to act like journalists "in the moment" as it were, and they hold to this pledge, but there are other journalists, domestic and foreign, present to record it.

Kim arrives on time and looking very casual, in black pants with a black belt and a short-sleeved white shirt open at the collar to reveal a white T-shirt underneath.  He does not smoke.   He does not even sit, but rather strolls around the room as he talks to those assembled, who are also standing.  They do not talk back.  Kim's English is near fluent, much better than I expected notwithstanding the period that he spent in his youth at a Swiss boarding school.

Kim's tone, until the end, is light-hearted.  He often smiles, talking of his country's modern history and of his father and grandfather, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.  But towards the end he begins to focus on a particular middle-aged British journalist, one perhaps more famous than any of the others, one I will call "Peter Cowper."  Kim addresses him by his first name, and he begins to speak of some of the pieces that Cowper has written about the regime, including pieces focusing on its flagrant human rights abuses.  His tone becomes more serious and his voice somewhat louder.

At the very end, still looking at Cowper, Kim mentions as if in passing the name of a young woman, a name not known to anyone else in the room but Cowper.  Then he references, rather cryptically, an abortion.  Cowper blanches.

Kim thus had at the meeting a message to give to three concentric audiences -- to Cowper himself, to the assembled visitors, and to the world at large.  The message is the same -- that the Leader has seen and taken note of everything, that he will not be mocked, and that in the end revenge without mercy will be visited on his enemies.

From that time forward, until his death, Cowper is mindful of the possible presence of assassins whenever he takes as much as a step outside his home.

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