Sunday, December 19, 2021


Sic Semper Tyrannis

Well, maybe not exactly thus.

It was in the summer of 2047 that the New Leader truly ran off the rails psychologically, which set in motion a chain of events leading to the long-predicted dissolution of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or DPRK, and the proclamation soon thereafter of the new, benign Peoples Democratic Republic of Koryo, or PDRK.

The New Leader, known to his mother as Kim Il-Du, was not so new in 2047, having ascended the throne upon the death by natural causes of his father Kim Jong-Un in 2039.  By then, though, he was going over a rough patch, and already  being called, behind his back, the "Caligula of Koryo" for his ever more vivid methods of striking fear into the hearts of his people, and especially the hearts of the military and political cadres who might be in a position to threaten him.  So in that summer he instructed the elite construction brigade known as 2-12, which was attached to the Second Army Corps, to build a gigantic fondue pot, to a scale such that it had an aperture of 10 metres, in honor of his late father's favorite food, which was cheese.

The pot when completed looked very much, except for its size, like the crockpot in which one might bake beans, with a pale yellow patina on the bottom and a chocolate brown glaze above.  Kim had it installed in the center of the lesser of the two large gathering places in the Great Hall of the People in Pyongyang -- the one in which international and national championship basketball games were played.  Above the pot was built a complex crane and lift system so that miscreants standing on the floor of the arena could be put in harness, like Peter Pan on 42nd and Broadway, then lifted over and slowly dropped into 5000 gallons of bubbling cheese, with their arms and legs free to move for further theatrical effect.

The cheese, per the classic recipe, was a mixture of equal parts Gruyere and Vacherin Fribourgeois, imported discreetly into the port of Nampo from Shanghai.  Because it represented the entire importation into China from Europe of those two cheeses in the preceding year, securing it was a life-and-death priority for two senior DPRK diplomats residing in Beijing.  Also, once in country, the latter cheese was always to be styled per Kim's own order simply "Vacherin," to avoid any insinuation that the regime fancied anyone or anything that was either "free" or "bourgeois."

Senior party officials in the hundreds as well as family members to the third degree witnessed the executions that took place in the fall in the Peoples Hall.  Kim himself was not present, but he watched them live from his palace in the capital.  Usually two victims were boiled in the cheese at the same time, but they did not descend at precisely the same height.  Kim's logic was that the more reprehensible of the two miscreants should be slightly behind in the descent, so that his agony would include watching and hearing a bit of the denouement of his co-conspirator.

Of the ten people who perished in the pot that year, only one -- the New Leader's aunt, Kim Yo-Jong -- took her punishment silently and with apparent equanimity, until the moment, that is, when her black pump-clad feet fell into the cheese, at which point her screams were automatic and animalistic, incapable of suppression.

It is known that the New Leader, like the Great Leader and the Dear Leader and his father the Respected Marshall before him, held soirees for senior cadres almost every week that went deep into the night, in part to test out loyalties by putting people a bit off their guard via inebriation, which was required of all hands.  At these parties at this time, he would often make reference to the cheese torture, but only obliquely.  It was an unwritten law that everyone respond to such references "in a spirit of fun," as if supremely confident that they themselves were immunized from punishment by their ironclad, impregnable loyalty.

When the end came in the late spring of the following year, Kim himself was frog marched to the hall and up a set of wooden stairs constructed for the purpose, so that he could be tossed over the lip of the crockpot to his destruction.  (It took five men to do it.)  The cheese on that day was on a low simmer as always when the contraption was dormant, and at the temperature accordingly of a light sauna.  As a consequence, Kim died not from burns but from what had come to be known as the new phenomenon of "cheesephyxiation."  His yellow body was displayed to the people in Kim Il Sung Square, propped up in the same regal chair from which he liked to watch military parades, until the dogs did what dogs will do.

Dogmeat, of course, has always been a delicacy in North Korea, and especially favored for its apocryphal assistance in staving off the ill effects of heat in the summer.  But remarkably in that summer of 2048, no one partook of it, not even in the countryside, out of respect for the dogs of Pyongyang.

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