The weakness of this North Korean regime is one man’s dignity
Reactions to debate surrounding the “The Interview” and its developments may be fleeting, but the lessons we can learn, given the proper context, are significant and lasting. Rapid capitulation says more about the world’s readiness to submit to a psychological dictatorship than about a regime’s concern about the removal of Kim Jong Un.
When it was initially suggested that the North Korean leadership should be referred to the ICC, there were strong voices of criticism, questioning whether such a referral would contribute any meaningful progress. Such critics saw the issue only in terms of the physical, and not the psychological, aspects of North Korea’s dictatorial rule.
In North Korea’s psychological dictatorship, the cultural and emotional psychology of each individual must submit to the Supreme Leader’s guidance. The psychological is one of two fundamental pillars of North Korea’s totalitarian manipulation. The notion that the basis of that psychological grip – the legitimacy of rule-by-Kim-cult, which is in part embodied physically in Kim Jong Un – should actually be referred to the ICC was a mortal threat to the psychological dictatorship’s power source itself.
Moreover, the suggestion was not a condemnation made by one country, but one made in the name of the UN: effectively, an international community. The DPRK response was seen to be frantic, with diplomatic flurries, counter-explanations, and even the production of false testimony made by refugees’ family back home in order to discredit escaped victims’ testimonies. The regime felt the creep of a dissonant tremor to the source-psychology of people whom it must keep bound in mental submission within a system legitimised by the Supreme Leader’s guidance.
In simple words, it’s not the end of one man that is feared by those overseeing this system, but the end of what he represents.
In this way, the regime of the Kim cult knows and is daunted by a threat to the psychological basis of its control and power more than it is threatened by the prospect of any physical blow or repercussions. In parallel, the regime of the Kim cult is not so much fighting with the outside world, as it is fighting a threat from within: the development of consciousness, driven in large part by the collapse of the state economy and ensuing marketisation. In other words, it is fighting against the falling apart of the internal psychology of its system.
What hurts this regime of the cult of Kim is not the dignity or death of twenty-five million, but the dignity and death of one – or rather, the dignity and death of the cult of one. This is what everything and everyone in North Korea remains rigidly and forcibly bound to.
The cultification of the Kim dynasty is not merely based on and sustained by propaganda, but by consistent and persistent distortion and fabrication to justify the cult of Kim – both internally and externally, and from beginning to everlasting – with the cult of Kim being the avatar that is the end product of this system.
Because the maintenance of this system must fear the truths and arguments that expose this, the regime of the Kim cult cannot truly open (and thus expose itself to the world), and the regime of the Kim cult cannot truly reform (and thus expose itself to its own people).
The issue of the kidnapping of Japanese citizens is connected in several ways to the current uproar about “The Interview”, not least as it relates to the same Supreme Leader. Rather than take North Korea’s excuse at face value when it says that the kidnappings were impulsive acts of loyalty by inter-Korean operations officers (in this case, it is a lie), the crimes should be tied to the essential nature of the system – one that is centred on the cult of Kim, where all actions may only be justified by the guidance of the Supreme Leader.
If only to minimise the tarnishing of the righteous authority of the Supreme Leader, North Korea will be compelled to consider finding a way to make amends to that presentation, and therefore be forced into the reactive, responding to other negotiators’ initiatives.
The lack of progress on the kidnapping issue should not be perceived as a matter of Japan-DPRK relations, but about Kim Jong Un’s silence, and therefore his continued complicity, in those crimes – in a literal and personal sense now, and not only in terms of the DPRK’s self-declared systemic continuity and unified guidance in the cult of Kim that passed on from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Un.
Japan already has evidence that the blame for these crimes rests with the Supreme Leader: at the Koizumi summit, Kim Jong Il himself confessed it and Prime Minister Abe was a witness to the confession. Abe can testify that the blame lies with rule by Kim Jong Il’s legacy where invocation of the Supreme Leader’s guidance, even today, overrides the DPRK constitution and all other state laws.
Evidence of Kim Jong Un’s responsibility for all matters of state – as long as he remains the embodiment of the regime of the Kim cult – is already copiously, rigorously and systemically documented in objective terms, in the history of the Supreme Leader Guidance System compiled and continuously maintained and updated by the state itself. According to this system, by which ratifications for policy and action are issued and enforced, the Supreme Leader’s guidance must be the basis and justification of all actions of the DPRK.
On one hand, each time actions occur without such ratification, rule by invocation of the Supreme Leader’s guidance is undermined. On the other, when a threat to the cult of Kim is perceived, because it is the only and final thing that matters for a regime of the Kim cult to hold itself together, it has no choice but to rally and respond, no matter what evident inconsistencies come to the surface through that response.
With regard to the fear of retaliation or of lost opportunities for those in the outside world, it is perhaps understandable that we submit psychologically to the regime, even when we ourselves aren’t physically hostage, unlike all North Koreans inside the system of guilt-by-association.
Yet in spite of our freedoms, we in the outside world have given up of our own accord the most powerful and only effective stand against a Kim-centered and cult-justified system of oppression – still today, in spite of all we know, we submit to the cult of Kim.
The North Korean people would be appalled by the knowledge that the world lay prostrate before the Kim cult – horrified at how weak and powerless those outside had proven to be, by being psychologically bound to the cult as if within its domain, remaining within the system when we are so much more empowered than is allowed to be imagined by it – because we are privileged to stand in a place where we are able to know and believe that a system and a people are not one and the same, that a cult and a nation are not one and the same.
We vouch as those who have come from the heart of that place: the deep-rooted source as well as the fatal flaw of this current regime’s physical dictatorship and psychological totalitarianism, its inherent inability to normalise, open or reform for the sake of its people, lies in the overriding cultification of Kim.
Rule by cultification abandoned all North Koreans; it must be abandoned for all North Koreans.
By Jang Jin-sung and Shirley Lee