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Dead Boogeymen

So Kim Jong-Il is dead.

He’s the last of the lot. Saddam’s been dead awhile, and this year saw the end of Khaddafi and bin Laden, and even Castro went and retired.

All the boogeymen of my youth are gone now. It’s odd. I was never really that scared of any of them—they were never all that real to me—but it’s odd to think they’re actually dead. However much harm they did to very real people over the years, when you’re a kid and you grow up hearing about a vague bad guy a long ways away, they tend to become a mostly mythological figure. I think I devoted about as much mental energy to Kim Jong-Il over the years as I devoted to the Krampus, possibly less.

Still. Odd.

I’m sure we’ll get new ones—nature abhors a vacuum—but I can’t help but wonder if we’ll be going “Dictator A? Feh. You should have been around for Saddam, now there was a CIA-funded lunatic! This one couldn’t oppress his way out of a paper sack! I bet GWAR never wrote a song about HIM!”

A little too soon to see what the death of this boogeyman will mean for the people of North Korea, and I don’t know enough to hazard a guess in any particular direction, but here’s hoping things get better.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

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Even Kim Jong Il wasn't the original Big Bad - he inherited the lot from his dad Kim Il Sung. Now son #3 stands to inherit. As he's a twenty-something he might not be able to hold power (what do sons #1 & #2 think about it) or he might continue the family tradition of keeping North Korea isolated from the rest of the world. Oh to have a TARDIS handy *g*


I think I heard once that the son was educated in Switzerland. It might mean nothing, and it might help that he's lived in the outside world.

Or there'll be a coup and it won't matter anyhow. And if there is a coup, that TARDIS is the only thing that will be able to convince me the US government wasn't involved.

I think what's saddest about my reaction (such as it is) comes from my mental sigh of "I wonder if it'll make any difference at all."

Cynicism: not as much fun as one might think.

Even though he protested it, I always thought Kim Jong-Il was flattered and pleased that he was counted as part of Bush's "Axis of Evil". In kind of a "look, I'm relevant!" way.

The Onion has an article on his son and heir. http://www.theonion.com/articles/kim-jongun-privately-doubting-hes-crazy-enough-to,18374/ Probably the most informative article on Kim Jong-Un out there!

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The first thing that came to mind when reading about it was...

That's equality... Being able to hold both non-americans and Americans indefinitely... Can't complain about that, right?

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Kim Il Sung was the original. He actually knew how to rule...
The son was mostly a figurehead, wasting resources and annoying the rest of the world's leaders.
The third iteration... Is a nobody. He most problably won't be able to rule at all, and will cost them what they really need, a focal point. Someone who can take an overview and make the hard decisions.
Instead they'll be plagued with even more political infighting and waste.

There's stories about even soldiers begging for food.
With infighting and a desperate population, anyone who can show aa bit of strenght can rise to the top in that mess.
(Seems a popular way for despots to take over a country, really. )

There's also the fact that China is investing heavily in the country, building industrial centres and even some infrastructure.
I really doubt they're doing it out of the goodness of their heart.

I'm expecting a lot of military exercises near the southern border to show that the 'New Kim' is as decisive and in control at the original. Whether or not they'll actually fire across the border this time... is anyone's guess.

There's still Thien Sein in Burma - ain't got rid of them all yet....

I do wonder if the generation above us look at the current dictators and go, "Saddam? Kim Jong-il? You should have been around for Hitler and Pol Pot. now there were some proper mass-murdering loonies."

It's always better* in the olden days, right?

* for certain slightly broken values of 'better'

Mugabe's still around - or is he not really news in the US?

He isn't news over here particularly. Certainly no one you'd learn about in school. I have no doubt he's a bad dude, but if you're not actually committing terrorist acts that make the news, you get a backseat on the boogeyman front.

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I was going to say that we will zoom have enough crazed dictators to replace them. Another variant of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch.

But then I realized that the book I am reading, The Better Angels of our Nature by Stephen Pinker, convincingly. And with buckets of statistics makes the point that they really are not making them like they used to. We have both fewer mad warlords than we used to, and they are not as villainous (or at least, not successfully so). And our modern wars (post 45) really cannot match the rest of history for proper blood and guts.

So we can hope at, while undoubtedly mad and bad, the new Kim is but a watered down copy of the old one. After all, even the Burmese generals a showing some sign of realising how out of step they are with the world.

The positive side of globalization. It's a lot harder to be a dictator in the age of the internet.

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He's by no means the last. His sons have the potential to be carbon copies or even more insane. Time will tell.

Speaking of GWAR and dying, Flattus Maximus has kicked the bucket.

I'm hoping North Korea gets better too (it can't get a whole lot worse), but the military and the dictator have a symbiotic relationship there. If the dictator starts getting kind or nice, taking money out of the military coffers to improve the lot of the civilians, the military may have him removed and replaced with someone more to their liking.

I'm hoping the military are bright enough to realise that if all the farmers starve to death, everybody will lose.

Yes.. He's the last of the old-school dictators.

Mind, we have Chavez, Mugabe, and Ahmenidindinjarhead... or whatever.

I think there will always be Three Bad Guys out there. Some sort of cosmic balance.

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Living in South Korea, it's interesting to observe the reactions going on. There's a lot of waiting patiently and whispering.

I dunno. There's no celebrating that's for sure, but there's also no marches, no protests, no appeals for sense and unification. Everyone's just waiting and watching.

It's a very tense atmosphere over here right now.

There's Hugo Chavez, who's certainly crazy, but nowhere near as evil as Saddam or Kim.

Eh.. I dunno.. His practices are pretty suspect. Mind, it's mostly that he's RABIDLY anti-America, but he's done his fair share of crackdowns.

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