By Morak Babajide-Alabi
This article was first published on September 3, 2017. It is repeated today as a prelude to next week’s reaction to developments in the new relationship that is emerging between North Korea, South Korea and the United States of America.
Have you at some point in time (or even in ages past), considered the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as someone walking about with loose bolts in his head? Don’t kick yourself in the backside for thinking this way, because you are definitely not alone. As at this moment, the majority of people all over the world think he is “of different stock”. Going by his actions, especially in the past two months, this opinion about him cannot be wrong.
At no time in history has any country’s leader been so keen on turning his backside on the world. But Kim seems desperate to write himself into the history book, not minding the fact that this move may signal his end and by extension the many years of his family’s hold on the destiny of the country. Kim Jong-Un is reported to have commissioned the largest number of missile tests within a short period in the history of his country. Since taking over in 2011, he has tested a minimum of one missile per year.
This year has seen the largest, as he tries desperately to identify with his “unpredictability” tag. In his isolation, Kim cuts the figure of a chap looking for adventures, but because of his sadistic tendencies, always forced to play by himself. He is young, some may say, but there is something about leadership that matures one in a matter of time. Ever since Kim’s surprise emergence as the leader, following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, he has continually placed other world leaders, especially his neighbours – South Korea and Japan – on the edges of their seats.
Although he has a limited number of friends and partners, he does not seem to be bothered. He has managed to carry on with the tradition of his predecessors – his father and grandfather. We need to always remember that Kim comes from a lineage of ruthless dictators that managed to keep the country under for so many years. To the people he rules over, they have little or no opinion on their leader. Even though they may be “nutters”, the citizens still have to worship them, because they have no choice. So they line up the street, with infectious smiles and well-choreographed parades to sing praises to their leader. The leader is king.
There may be noticeable hunger, poverty and despondency in the land; a glance at the leader’s image brings hope. Therefore a revolt is unthinkable. The few citizens that had been bold to raise their voices against the family had either been wasted or had fled to the other side of the border. The North Korean leaders, past and present, do not tolerate their authorities being challenged. The citizens have to revere them because they give “life” and issue “death” warrants to those who disrespect their leadership. To the people of this troubled country, democracy is a word that does not exist.
Now it seems Kim is gradually sensing he might go the way of dictators such as Mouamar Ghadaffi and Sadam Hussein and he needs a straw to hold on to so he can stay afloat for a little longer. Analysts believe these missiles tests and nuclear development are bargaining chips for his survival. These explain his boldness to take on the world while aspiring to extend his area of influence well beyond his immediate neighbours. Right now, Kim is sporting for a fight with the world’s superpower, the United States of America (USA).
Earlier in July, Kim tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that really got the world worried. He had shown his intent earlier on in April when he paraded a devastating arsenal, including a rocket, thought to be capable of flying more than 7,000 miles with a touchdown within range of Los Angeles. There were a few diplomatic scampering as a result of this action.
For a moment the world panicked, as Donald Trump, the equally irascible US President, rather than seek resolution, decided to stoke the fire of war. In a flurry of tweets and words, Trump issued stern warnings to the North Korean leader and wondered if Kim has “anything better to do with his life?” Speaking to reporters at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, at that time, Trump said: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
I will wager a guess that Kim chuckled to himself in reaction to Trump’s threat, as there was no change in his body language or has he been deterred in his push to dominate the news. Yes, we may argue that he backtracked on his promise to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam, but his arrogance afterwards has been unbelievable. Last week, while the world was still asleep, Kim with his trusted comrades, sneaked into the missiles room and launched an “unidentified projectile” towards the northern part of Japan. South Korea’s military officials confirmed that the missiles hurtled over the country before breaking into pieces.
This has, once again, set the world at an edge. This time around the US officials are not keeping quiet any more on Kim’s tantrums. The country responded almost immediately by dropping bombs near the North Korean border as a show of strength. It was reported four US F-35B fighter jets joined two nuclear-ready US B-1B bombers and four South Korean F-15 fighter jets and in a joint military operation swooped over the Korean Peninsula. This was the first time a bomb attack had been carried out in response to the many nuclear tests of the rogue country.
Kim Jong-Un is a crazy man, who enjoys himself when the world panics. He smiles coyly to the camera to tell world leaders that he is not bothered by their sanctions or gang up against him. His arrogance is so annoying that when you see him on television on one of the nations’ few propaganda videos you feel like putting your hands around his neck and stuff life out of him.
Kim comes across as a youngster who has been smoking a few dry leaves just to appear brave. The sizes of his trousers portray him as a man that has no respect for any fashion trend. His brands are customised to differentiate him from the rest of the world. And they do look like they have been sewn and preserved for him by his forefathers. You do not need to be fastidious with hairstyles to be put off by Kim’s. He spots hairstyles that make you wonder if his barbers are still living in the last century, as this can be the only explanation for modelling him after Fred Flintstone.
In the midst of all these craziness, do not let us make the mistake that Kim is out of his depths in reasoning. He is not. He might appear quirky, but he seems to have an agenda that needs unravelling. This is why, for the first time, since he became US President, the world seems to agree with that Kim, indeed, needs a lesson in civility. Will Trump take the bait, and send Kim packing? Or will Kim survive another US president? Time will tell.