Due to the death of dictator Kim Jong-il, we have had a rare glimpse into the culture of North Korea. The degree to which this man was able to shield his people from the world is astonishing. Reports indicate that the people are almost completely unaware of major events, technological developments, and geopolitical situations. And even though this leader had a history of abuse, while he himself lived in opulence, the reaction of the people when he died would lead us to believe that Kim Jong-il was one of the most beloved heads of state in all of history.

Images of citizens morning the passing of Kim Jong-il are informative. There has been much weeping, wailing, and emotional excess in response to the death of the great leader Comrade, as he was known. In September, however, more than 40 human rights groups launched a campaign calling for a United Nations inquiry into the “crimes against humanity” perpetrated by Kim Jong-il. To the detriment of his people, he continued the policy established by his father of putting the military first when it came to the nation’s resources regardless of the humanitarian consequences. The people of North Korea live in chronic poverty. Detractors are imprisoned in camps where they must exist in the most miserable circumstances. Those who have managed to escape tell stories of deliberate starvation and torture.

The situation in North Korea illustrates how effectively an entire nation can be manipulated to revere and even worship someone distinguished by wickedness and disregard for life. During the approximately 40 years that this man ruled the country, he was able to convince the people that he was a god and that they lived in an earthly paradise. The people have been trained to view the rest of the world as opportunistic enemies.

Kim Jong-un, the son of Kim Jong-il, will replace his father. As it turns out, apparently you can fool all of the people all of the time.

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