Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Burke’s Peerage Pyongyang Edition

Korean Central News Agency, via Reuters
Kim Jong-un the son of Kim Jong-il and grandson of Kim Il-sung and newly appointed successor to the North Korean leadership (his stepbrother Kim Jong-nam was passed over when he was caught trying to visit Tokyo’s Disney World), may have learned some lessons from Fiorello Laguardia, the legendary mayor of New York who read comics to children over the radio during a time when his country, like North Korea, was under fire (and to whom Kim Jong-un, also pudgy and diminutive bears a slight resemblance). Like his ill-fated stepbrother, Kim Jong-un also likes Disney, but he expropriated Disney characters to curry popular support and also undoubtedly to cheer up Pyongyangians the way Laguardia once lifted the spirits of New Yorkers. Jong-un also got hooked up according to a front page piece in the Times (“That Mystery Woman in North Korea? Turns Out She’s First Lady,” NYT, 7/25/12).  Ri Sol-ju is the lucky young lady and what better morale builder could the young leader have, particularly in the light of his last failed rocket launch, which has caused some commentators to question his virility (“North Korea’s Performance Anxiety,” NYT, 5/5/12)? Sol-ju according to the Times was spotted wearing “a trim black suit in the Chanel tradition” and she showed up at “the inauguration of an amusement park” in a “fashionable polka-dot jacket.” The Times piece cites “analysts” who claim that “Ms. Ri’s fashion sense…appears to be part of the building of a youthful new image; for years North Korean women were pictured only in traditional billowing dresses or Mao-style work clothes.” Sound like the difference between Mamie Eisenhower and Jackie Kennedy? In any case, the marriage naturally makes one think about the next heir to the dynasty and what his name will be. First name has to be Kim, but after that all bets are off. If you take the “un” literally, the dauphin could be Kim Jong-deux. There is no doubt that the prospect of a new heir is a naming opportunity which could bring needed revenue into coffers of the impoverished country. For instance someone like the hedge fund operator Boaz Weinstein, who held the profitable side of the infamous London Whale, might prefer to have a child named after him rather than a hospital wing. Kim Jong-Weinstein? It’s sonorous enough, but might be too Jewish sounding for a future leader of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).

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