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2017-10-15 17:58
By Dan Paul Rose



Few people I have spoken to seem to conceive of an internal coup. Not a contrived and executed CIA mission with Korean secret agents, but a homegrown rooting out of a dictator.

How might this happen? My best guess is Information. Intelligence. Word of something better out there in the world. North Korean citizens en masse need to see what a democratic government and society looks and feels like.

I do not mean the riches of fast cars and resort vacations, but simply a cornucopia of food, decent health care to combat basic infections, and most pressingly, a school system that fosters critical thinking: a mode of cognition ― about any subject, content, or problem ― in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her reasoning by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it.

Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.

In other words, North Korea, go ahead and teach communist principles, but also shed light on what capitalism and socialism offer. At least give your citizens the freedom to expose themselves to an alternative. In short, a critical thinker knows he or she could be wrong, dead wrong: about the interpretation of history, climate change, or, if this planet can sustain itself when it reaches a projected 10 billion people in 2050.

Education is often the overused cliche to solve problems, but it is the most realistic means to remove the elephant in the north room: the unstable, nuclear-armed 32-year-old autocrat whose alleged personal passions are whiskey, pornography, and with irony, America’s National Basketball Association ― the NBA.

Unlike his grandfather Kim Il-sung, Jong-un is not sophisticated. He was awkward as a child, but not demonic. Where is his head these days? In the clouds? Bewildered? Out of touch with the rest of the world? Indeed, and seemingly so disinterested and incurious about anything other than his own pretense of power.

Much like America’s current president, Jong-un appears unfit to lead ― just as I would be, if I were handed the job on a silver platter.

Back to the initial uprising, which does not have to be bloody, but it must, and will, I predict, happen within the country. I am already surprised how one man is able to fend off his internal, though silent, detractors, and maintain what appears to be despotic rule.

In this day and age what decent citizen stands for this kind of paralyzing control? South Koreans got rid of their last president whose most egregious charge was channeling a witch.

Put Jong-un into the South and he would not last a week. I have seen how South Koreans take to the streets to protest against the injustice of unfair labor laws. I cannot imagine Jong-un has many ardent supporters, just lackeys who are scared to die a miserable death.

Like the American president, the egomania must be so ingrained that a rational and humane individual cannot comprehend it, nor come close to empathizing with such psychotic behavior.

But what if the elephant is sitting in the room to our west? Maybe my naivete has me presuming when, in fact, it is this player who is holding all the cards of change. Is it China that ultimately says, yes or no ― something must give, something must drastically change in North Korea? Yet, this is not a poker game. It appears to be more of a circus, where I cannot connect how the elephants actually interact.

Another option is waiting for it all to pass. That’s right ― the Kim family dynasty peters out organically, as time will inevitably prove.

However, Jong-un could easily live 40 more years as the North Korean leader, and I am not very patient, nor will I have enough time to enjoy those future photographs of Pyongyang residents lounging in a place like Ethnographic Park ― on nice wooden benches on a sunny autumn day reading the latest edition of The Korea Times.


Dan Paul Rose (danpaulrose@hotmail.com) is an   instructor in the English Department at Yong In University, Yongin.


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