Too much of the coverage of death of Kim Jong Il focused on what it meant geopolitically, or specifically for the United States. Good news for Mitt Romney! Etc. Etc.
Reader E sends along a few articles that focus on the plight of the North Korean people, one about the outbursts of crying that North Korean media reported, and some surprisingly wise words from my least favorite editorial board:
Mr. Kim’s sole accomplishment — his survival in power — owes more to the self-interested calculations of surrounding powers than to his supposed wisdom. South Korea, a prosperous, capitalist democracy, feared the financial burden of a sudden merger with its impoverished northern half. China, with the most influence over the North Korean regime, feared a powerful, pro-Western, possibly nuclear-armed Korea extending to the Yalu River. The United States, in dealing with China, always had higher priorities on its negotiating card than the welfare of North Koreans.
o no one wanted a “collapse” of the regime, though nothing would have been more in the interest of North Koreans themselves. For in the percentage of his population that starved or went to the gulag, or both, under his command, Mr. Kim ranks with Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot.
What’s important about the transition of power in North Korea is what it means for the North Korean people, who have been treated terribly by their government for far too long.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the United States should try or should have tried to topple the North Korean government, but the country should be seen as something other than a geopolitical chess piece.