The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 2, 2013

How do you solve a problem like Kim Jong-un?

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — What are we to make of Kim Jong-un?

For starters, he’s kind of a short, pudgy guy with a fat, nondescript face and a funky high and tight haircut.

He looks like a kid who would have been picked on unmercifully in junior high.

He’s got some sort of weird “bromance” with Dennis Rodman.

He is married, we are told by the North Korean propaganda machine, to a young woman named Ri Sol-ju, who is way too cute for him, but you know what they say about power being the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Oh, and in his spare time, Kim Jong-un likes to spend his time threatening world war.

The North Korean dictator has been indulging that passion frequently of late, rattling his sword more often than a nervous Musketeer.

The North Korean government is threatening nuclear war, threatens to attack the U.S. with missiles and says the Korean peninsula is entering a “state of war.”

Is this empty rhetoric, are these simply the ravings of a madman, or is he just doing this to impress his wife, or Dennis Rodman, for that matter?

No matter Kim’s reasoning, the threats must be taken seriously, though with a grain of salt.

Experts say Kim’s arsenal does not include missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, or even flying as far as Hawaii. U.S. military bases in Japan, however, could be in peril.

However, North Korea could rain destruction upon South Korea before the attack was stopped.

Kim doesn’t want to tangle with the U.S.

Any such conflict would be unwinnable for the North Koreans.

Instead, his goal seems to be to bully or intimidate the new South Korean government to soften its stance on its neighbors to the north, as well as to draw the U.S. and United Nations into talks that might result in the loosening of sanctions against North Korea.

Of course, part of it may be Kim’s desire to build himself up as a great military leader in the eyes of his generals.

Some North Korea watchers say Kim’s bluster might be the result of his own shaky position at the top of the repressive dictatorship he inherited from his late father, Kim Jong-il.

It is said the real power in North Korea rests with Kim’s aunt and uncle, Kim Kyong-Hui and her husband, Jang Sung-Taek.

Meanwhile the North Korean government continues to wage war on its own people, despite the high-minded propaganda posted on its official state website.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a genuine workers’ state in which all the people are completely liberated from exploitation and oppression.

“The workers, peasants, soldiers and intellectuals are the true masters of their destiny and are in a unique position to defend their interests,” reads the website.

Uh-huh. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, more than 13 million North Koreans suffer from malnutrition, including 60 percent of all children, the worst malnutrition rate among 110 developing nations.

A year ago the North Korean military lowered its minimum height standard to 4-foot-7, just a bit taller than the average fourth-grader in South Korea, according to an National Public Radio report.

North Korean markets are reportedly full of food, but most people can’t afford to buy it.

Even members of the military are going hungry, according to reports.

One North Korean man interviewed by NPR described the desperate straits of some of his neighbors.

He said they felt they had suffered enough, so the parents mixed rat poison with rice porridge and fed it to their children, then ate the mixture themselves, joining their kids in death.

There are reports of North Koreans becoming so crazed with hunger that they killed and ate their own children.

Kim Jong-un’s latest bit of bluster came Tuesday, as his government said it would restart its plutonium reactor and increase production of nuclear weapons material.

What are we to make of Kim Jong-un?

Hmm, let’s see, he’s a despot who doesn’t seem to care a whit about his people, who would threaten the death of millions for his own personal gains and whose instability makes him as dangerous as nitroglycerin.

And then there’s that bad haircut.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at