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Monday, June 25, 2012

Of Loony Despots and Weeping Tweens

I'm fascinated by all things North Korean, especially by the succession of despotic, loony tyrants who've headed the country for 40+ years.  The rare bits of information and images, especially those that are sanctioned by Pyongyang, depict what I'm sure is a highly distorted rendering of what's really going on in there.  And yet, paradoxically, through all the Gursky-type visual hoopla, there's generally grains of truth in what we are seeing.  If only we knew what it all means.

Case in point: Here's a picture from today's New York Times with the caption: "An officially distributed photograph shows Mr. Kim surrounded by weeping members of the Korean Children's Union during a national meeting." 
Photo: Korea Central News Agency, via European Pressphoto Agency
So many questions, right?

Like, obviously, WTF is going on? Why the wailing? Did KJU just issue an order to kimchi their pets? Is that why he's beaming? Are those tears of utter joy, extreme sadness or debilitating fear? Are weeping and gnashing of teeth normal reactions to seeing him? Could he be the Bieber or the Butcher of Pyongyang? What exactly goes on at these Korean Children's Union gatherings? Are those canvas flats comfortable? 

Fascinating stuff.  Truly.
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