North Korea’s menace has been all over the news, including its missiles tests, visible preparations for a sixth nuclear test, and its threats to attack a U.S. aircraft carrier and to reduce the U.S. to ashes with a “super-mighty preemptive strike.” Assorted experts, debating how to handle the rogue regime of Kim Jong Un, have been weighing the pros and cons of trying yet more sanctions, new negotiations, tough talk, pressure on China, displays of military might, actual use of military force to take out North Korean missiles or even nuclear facilities, or assorted permutations of all these options and then some.
Amid all the strategizing — much of which envisions somehow continuing to “manage” the North Korea problem — it’s easy to sideline a basic and profoundly important element of the Pyongyang regime, a quality we should take into account quite thoroughly, front and center, before considering any course that might leave the Kim regime in power. The feature I’m talking about is the raw moral obscenity of Kim’s North Korea.
That obscenity might seem so entirely self-evident that it needs no repeated mention. We know that Kim is a tyrant, ruling a country that doubles as a prison for its 25 million people. We know that Kim keeps power by doing horrible things to those who fail to please him, including members of his own family. It was all over the news in 2012 when he swept aside his uncle and purported mentor, Jang Song Thaek, who was abruptly denounced and executed. Kim’s regime appears to have been behind the horrific assassination with VX nerve agent of Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, just two months ago, in a Malaysian airport.