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Saturday, May 6, 2017

What's wrong with Kim Jong Un?

What is Kim Jong Un's syndrome? Is he a sociopath? Psychotic? Or just garden-variety narcissist with unlimited license?

His actions are so bizarre, in so many different ways, that it's tempting to just settle for saying something like "Guy's got a screw loose," or, "He's out of control." Neither of those statements, of course, would convey any useful information. But, neither would be wrong, either.

I've tried hard to pigeonhole him, but I can't: there's no recognizable pattern of behavior, no familiar tics that make me think, aha -- that's his syndrome.

And add to that the fact that the news we get is often misleading, and it's sometimes hard to tell truth from fiction. Yesterday an article in the NY Post said that Kim Jong Un was claiming that the US and South Korea had conspired to assassinate him, and that the CIA had snuck operatives into North Korea to that end.

That sounds like paranoia, and given all the other outlandish claims Kim has made, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. But -- and this has to be said -- it's also plausible. Trump has escalated tensions with North Korea recently, and the most effective way to end the threat of a nuclear strike from that country would be to kill Kim.

So, who knows.

Kim would, based on some of his other actions -- killing his uncle and his half-brother, among many others -- seem to suffer from paranoia. And paranoia, according to all the psychology textbooks, goes hand in hand with delusions of grandeur, which Kim obviously in abundance.

(Kim is a little reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, who was given to saying, "Off with his head!" The difference is that in that book, the queen's courtiers would never carry out her orders, whereas Kim's minions do.)

But, Kim does present an a tempting target. So maybe these other people were plotting against him. Plus, how many of those killings are due to people close to Kim planting a bug in his ear in order to eliminate their own enemies? All we know is, we'll never know for sure.

And even when it comes to his delusions of grandeur, how many of those are actually his, and how much are merely the machinery of the state? Remember, he is the son of Kim Jong Il, who had these titles bestowed upon him, and about whom it was said by the state press that he would regularly shoot three or four holes in one per round of golf.

North Korea is obviously an incredibly repressive regime, where not only the press but the citizenry speak their minds at their own peril. If Kim had created this society himself, it would be say to say he was a sociopath. But Kim basically inherited a dictatorship. And if that's all you've ever known, it would take a pretty remarkable person to change it.

At the same time, making excuses for Kim this way is a little like saying that we should sympathize with Ted Bundy because he was the product of incest and had been lied to about his parentage as a child. Just because Kim grew up in such extraordinarily warped circumstances doesn't mean he's not a sociopath.

Usually, it's fairly easy to find about someone's family background simply by checking out the Early Life section of their bio on Wikipedia. But Wikipedia gives no sense of what Kim Jong Un's relationship with his mother was.

And what the North Korean press has said about Kim's father doesn't exactly seem reliable: that when he was born on top of a sacred mountain, winter turned to spring. And that his body was so well calibrated that he never needed to urinate or defecate.

Anyway, all of this is a little like trying to analyze the last emperor of China, the boy king Puyi, who ascended to the throne in 1908 at age two years and ten months. He grew up in such unique, extreme circumstances that the normal rules of behavior -- and probably even psychology -- don't apply.

And the same obviously applies to Kim Jong Un. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to get some sense of his personality.

Is Kim Jong Un just extremely narcissistic because he's effectively been spoiled rotten from the time he was very young?

Is he autistic? That would be easy to believe too, given his seeming lack of personal skills. (Though really, he never really had to.) And if he does drop one of his nuclear bombs on a nearby country, that would be the equivalent of some Aspie -- like Christopher Harper-Mercer, or Elliot Rodger, or Adam Lanza, or Seung-Hui Cho -- erupting in a violent autistic meltdown.

Kim doesn't seem schizoid. Although it's easy to attach the word "crazy" to his behavior, if he were in fact psychotic, he wouldn't have been able to hold onto power. And his father wouldn't have chosen him over his various brothers and half-brothers as his successor.

There's such a syndrome as "learned narcissism," which is sometimes applied to movie stars, rock stars, and sports stars. These people have been so indulged, and so lionized, that they essentially just learn to act in a narcissistic fashion.

(Who among us can say that if we were lavished with praise and catered to at every turn, we would not learn to become self-indulgent?)

In a similar way, is it possible that Kim has "learned sociopathy?" As in, absolute power results in absolute corruption? Maybe he didn't start out that way, and maybe his mother actually loved him, and he was the recipient of her affection growing up. And maybe if he had inherited a benevolent monarchy, he would have somehow ended up a benevolent monarch.

In the end, it probably doesn't make any difference. If Kim is not a sociopath, he might as well be. Because whether or not his family background predisposed him that way, he now acts like a sociopath.

And as Kurt Vonnegut once said, you are what you act like.

So if Kim's claims about the CIA were right, well, they had the right idea.


Berit said...

Read “Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il, by Michael Malice (2014).
The book is mostly about Kim Jong Un’s father but tells you a lot about the culture and minds.

Anonymous said...

Why do you use the term schizoid? Schizoid disorder is on the schizophrenia spectrum but is aloof and isolated behaviour with fantasy like mental retreating, it has a lot of overlap in negative symptoms, maybe a positive symptom or two, but is a unique condition that can be distinguished from classic psychosis. Do you mean schizotypal/paranoid schizophrenic?

Also if he were autistic, I wonder how he would manage to hold onto power or be chosen either. So I have some doubts about that IF Il's standards are that low. I would never choose him if I were Kim Jong Il, I'd choose the most charming best manipulative son. I doubt Un is holding onto as much power as we think. Il's standards may be low enough that schizophrenia (or schizotypal, higher functioning schizophrenia) is also equally as possible (or impossible), but the end result doesn't matter, he could erupt into a violent autistic meltdown the same way he could erupt into a violent schizphrenic episode, both involve a dropped bomb.

The only option I really can believe is he is not holding onto that much power or none. He is just a puppet for the generals of the North Korean regime.

Actual schizoid (the kind I referred to) where a person retreats into his own imaginative lala land. Hides and disregards reality in a more abstract way is possible as well if Il's standards are really that low, but not low enough for autism or other schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Who would choose him? Something wrong must have been wrong with Il to choose THAT guy.


John Craig said...

Ga --
You're right; I was misusing the term "schizoid" to refer to all schizophrenics. (My knowledge of which isn't nearly as extensive as yours.)

I have to guess that all of Kim Jong Il's sons were spoiled and that none of them ever developed any real charm of manipulative abilities, simply because they didn't have to.

But the man point of the post was, it's hard to delineate a syndrome with Kim Jong Un because the normal rules don't seem to apply.

Anonymous said...

Off topic from the personality analysis....

How did Kim Jong-un and North Korea suddenly become such a security risk to the US that we are at the brink of war?

From what I read, N Korea is at least 4 to 5 years from putting a nuke on a missile that could reach the US.

Why does the US have 28,000 military personnel on the N Korean boarder - 60+ years after the end of the Korean war? How much has it cost us to maintain this force in N Korea for 60+ years?

If we were to bring our 28,000 men home and stop antagonizing N Korea - what possible beef would Kim Jong-un have against the US? What if, instead, we work on building the necessary systems to take down any missile shot from N Korea toward the US?

The US has set precedent: when causing regime change, we kill the leader. (sadam in Iraq, Gaddafi in Libya). Kim would be correct to think that whatever is coming, it likely includes his death. Whatever his psychological maladies, is it ridiculous to think that he has nothing to lose by causing a lot of damage before he is killed?

And, lets look at the results of our previous regime change efforts: Iraq - a mess; Libya - worse; Afghanistan (if we want to include it) - bad). So - lets say we have the best case - some sort of missile strike that takes out a Kim and a chunk of top leadership. What next? Do we assume we are going to get a rationale, fair, benevolent leader in the succession? if so, what possible basis is there for believing that?

Kim must have some support from his top brass - it they all were against him - wouldn't they have taken him out themselves by now? So who steps up if Kim is killed? What makes us think the next guy is not even worse - more aggressive, more dangerous?

Lastly - N Korea is not our fight. China, S Korea, Japan - its their neighborhood - they should solve the problem.

In my opinion the US adventurous militarism is out of control - and it will come to bite us hard - sooner or later.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
I agree that we don't need the 28,000 troops on the NK border, any more than we need to have large numbers of US troops stationed in Okinawa, or Germany, or Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else. That said, Kim is a bad guy, and while he wouldn't represent a danger to the US if we didn't have US troops stationed at the DMZ, in the meantime we do. And the fact is, he is a threat to all those countries which surround him, particularly South Korea and Japan, and the ideal solution would be just a surgical strike taking him and as few other people as possible out. Or even better, the biochemical weapon Un claimed they were going to use, which would have killed only him. Then, at least in an ideal scenario -- which, given Chinese interests in the region may not be possible, we could see a reunification of Korea not unlike the reunification of Germany in 1989. I do think that the North Korean people, given half a chance, would gladly reunite with their brethren to the south. They've been oppressed (that's an overused term, but it's not inappropriate here) for far too long.

And, yeah, I'd far prefer that North Korea's neighbors took care of the NK problem, but so far they haven't.

Agree completely about our interference in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan (and Egypt).

Anonymous said...

Sadam and Gaddafi were bad guys too, and eliminating them was a mistake in retrospect.

I cannot assess the actual threat Kim presents to Japan or South Korea. I suspect its bluster - until the cornered animal lashes out - which is right where we are putting him.

And I'm sure the N Korean people would be overjoyed to be united with the South Koreans. But they won't have any say in the matter. And I don't see what basis there is to assume that outcome from the assassination of Kim. Needless to say the re-uniting of Germany wasn't based on an assassination of E German leadership.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
True, eliminating Saddam and Gaddafi and Mubarak only resulted in chaos. And I think getting rid of Assad will do the same. But the big difference is that in NK there isn't a poisonous ideology like radical Islam waiting in the wings to take over. Being indoctrinated in radical Islamist ideology is sort of the human equivalent of getting rabies, and that's basically what's happened to a lot of places over there: they're being run by crazed extremists. The North Koreans only want to be reunited with their cousins. And yes, E. Germany collapsing wasn't a matter of its leadership being assassinated, it was more a matter of the Soviet bloc just sort of imploding. But the East Germans were a lot more like the North Koreans in that they weren't inclined to be rabid, and just wanted reunification.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you re: the difference between Islam and its tribal factions being different from the current Korean regimes.

But, to paraphrase something I read a while ago - in a conflict, the side with the guns almost always wins. And if Kim is assassinated, the N Korean military will have the power. The likely outcome is that the toughest / most ruthless / highest ranking guy left in the N Korean military will assume command - and its not likely he will be putting forth a democratic vote on whether N Korea should reunite w S Korea. He will lock down his power. And we have no assurance the new tyrant will be better than the old.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
Yes, true enough, it could just be that another despot will take Kim's place. But that leaves out one big factor, which is China. I think they'll have a pretty big say in all this. Kim realizes he's only been allowed to survive because China has allowed him to, and anytime they want to effect regime change, they can. And I have no idea what they want. For now, they've been content to let the status quo continue. But if Kim goes, then who knows. Also, the South Koreans will likely have a say in this too: if they see Kim go, they could see that as their opportunity to take over.

Unknown said...

I think a big part of it is he is a product of his environment.

LBD said...

You see this personality in the offspring of the hyper wealthy families in the third world, like Saudi Arabia and the children of high-up mobsters in South America and Eastern Europe. The kids are raised by servants who are terrified to contradict the brat, since they can't withdraw their labor when mistreated by a family member. The kids grow up expecting to win every game and are constantly praised by their obsequious caregivers. They are absolutely obnoxious, bored and malicious.

Contrast this with the way the British aristocracy raises their children. British kids from the highest levels of society are usually sent to boarding schools with harsh physical regimes and plain, unappetizing food. It's astonishing how grim some of theese environments are, and a lot of the children grow up feeling that they are poor, since they don't get the indulgence they see children whose families are middle class routinely enjoy.

It's only when they grow up that they gain access to the luxuries available from the family's wealth. Aside from rowdiness during their University years, they are usually much more self-effacing, or at least understand to keep a low profile when among the hoi-polloi. In my opinion, this is the root of Prince William's intense affection for his in-laws' household--they're a "normal" middle-class family without a lot of the baggage of the lifestyle of the nobility.To him, every day at the Middleton's house is like summer vacation.

John Craig said...

LBD --
That sounds about right for the Saudis and mobster brats. And interesting about the British system, that makes it sound like a great system, at least as far as keeping the children from becoming brats. But how can the upper class kids actually think they're poor? They've seen the houses their parents live in; they must have some sense of their wealth just from that.

You must be from the UK; I had no idea that Prince William had such affection for his in-laws' household. Also, I'd be a little reluctant to draw conclusions about the upper classic general from the attitude of the presumptive future king; he's in a special situation, not quite like Kim Jong Un's, but not quite regular upper class, either.

Shaun F said...

John - I noted you mentioned "The North Koreans only want to be reunited with their cousins." It reminded me of the whole "reunification thing" in Germany years ago. I knew a couple West Germans and they were quite bitter about reunification - as the West Germans footed the bill for all the infrastructure changes through higher taxes. It is hard to get a read on our NK despot though. Maybe he's just Caligula (ever see I Claudius with John Hurt as Caligula?) He might have artistic, whimsical, emotional, temperament which isn't necessarily suited for a dictator. Like you mentioned with the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.

John Craig said...

Shaun --
I can see why the West Germans would resent the money reunification cost. The South Koreans might feel the same way, but I suspect the vast majority of North Koreans would feel the same way that the East Germans did: relieved.

Caligula's not a bad comparison.

LBD said...


I'm American, just knowledgeable. Aristo kids in Britain are not encouraged to "give themselves airs" when they're very young. They may live in large houses but those places, especially the huge ones in the country are long on architectural and artistic merit and short on creature comforts.

I once visited Broughton Castle ( the Fiennes family, relatives of the acors Ralph and Joseph). Gorgeous estate and grounds, private chapel, art works to die for. The family rents it out as a film location whenever they can because, like most of the nobility, they are house rich and cash poor. Central heating is an Arabian Nights fantasy to the residents. The large staff they were built to require are imaginary as well. It takes a business mogul's fortune for proper upkeep, which is why many have been sold to business moguls.

The kitchen is far inferior to the average suburban American 3br2ba home. Most Americans wouldn't kennel their dogs in suchma room.

Young people who grow up in such circumstances are aware they are upper class, but they are cold in winter. Those places are impossible to heat, and Britain isn't Arizona in climate. Summers outdoors are no doubt glorious.

There are upper class folks who have managed to keep enough cash to have a very comfortable life, but the socialist minded populace are very envious and are quick to levy confiscatory taxes on them. It's not all crumpets and champagne.

John Craig said...

LBD --
You're certainly more knowledgeable than me about that stuff. The house rich/cash poor does ring a bell though. I've heard of other upper class families opening their houses for tours as well.

You describe it quite vividly. Funny about the kitchens. (I would have thought they'd have required bigger ones back in the old days, just to feed all the staff.)

Anyway, it all makes sense. The picture you draw reminds me a little of James Bond's ancestral home in "Skyfall." That place was magnificent, but didn't exactly look comfortable. Or warm. then again, I guess if he'd grown up on crumpets and champagne, he wouldn't have turned into 007.

LBD said...

They did have enormous kitchens when they were built, but you need squadrons of servants to run kitchens like that, and servants are neither available nor affordable. Kitchens also were located out of the way, so the upper class was not subjected to the noise and odors. Accordingly, food often arrived at the table cold because of the distance from point A to point B.

Often in stately homes the original kitchens are restored for an "Upstairs Downstairs" view of life in past centuries, for tourists, but the one I described is the one the family actually uses( glimpsed briefly while going from one part of the house to another). Peeling linoleum, ancient dirty stove, cheap,small table. Probably the warmest room in the house and the site of happy memories for the kids.

John Craig said...

LBD --
That makes sense too. I'm not quite enough of an Anglophile to be familiar with all this (though I am enough of one to think that Westminster Abbey is one of the coolest places I've ever been).

I'm sure you're right about those happy memories.

LBD said...

The British aristocracy's solution to cash liquidity problems in the 19th century was to marry off their sons to American industrialists' daughters. In th U.S. It was called buying a title; in Britain it was known as saving the old homestead.

I love the stately homes and all, for aesthetic reasons, but having a hereditary title is a full-time job.

Anonymous said...

Well...why did Il choose Un at all?

Maybe Un was Il's protege from the beginning, he groomed him as much as he could because he saw potential which he may have had, who knows, but it backfired since Un became fatty Kim. I looked at a photo of Un from when he was studying in Europe under a false name as a teenager. He wasn't fat.

The story goes after the death of his mother he began binge eating, and probably after his dad died and he was made supreme leading, he started drinking, chain smoking cigars and cigarettes, and eating more under the stress, or developed a habit because it was all available to him. He has imported wine, expensive sushi, expensive cigars, high quality beef, caviar, you name it all brought to him. Obesity and alcoholism, plus smoking isn't good for the brain. We can expect him to become less sharp. Apparently the cost of procuring, smuggling, and buying all his luxury goods and foods is over half a billion USD.

I oppose assassination attempts on Kim Jong Un except if there's a threat of launching a nuclear weapon. The same reason why the British cancelled any attempts at assassinating Hitler, Un is our best ally against North Korea.

Off topic:
Imma give you a Chinese name, here is my first attempt.
I checked your last name, Craig, it's Scottish for crag. So your Chinese surname should be Tsiu Bik, which is a bit long, so Ngaay is a good alternative with the same meaning of a rocky cliff, so your name is Ngaay Joek Bon. Do you have a Japanese name? Are you comfortable with sharing it?


John Craig said...

LBD --
Gotta wonder how some of those marriages turned out. I suppose no worse than a lot. I've heard that arranged marriages turn out no worse than Western marriages. this is getting off topic, but once the passion dies out and you're left with another personality, there are just as many problems as if there hadn't been any passion in the first place.

John Craig said...

Ga --
Half a billion!! That's a lotto money to keep a fatty fat. I remember reading that Kim Jong Il had expensive tastes as well, and that whenever he traveled, he'd have helicopters bring sushi to his train (he didn't like to fly). He also had American actresses brought in to service him, they'd get paid something like a million dollars to have sex with him one time. Supposedly there were some recognizable names involved, too, though it was all kept hush hush. At least that's what I heard, I certainly can't confirm it. (The Sultan of Brunei was said to do the same thing.) I haven't heard this of Kim Jong Un though.

No, I don't have a Japanese name. "Ngaay" sounds Vietnamese, "Joek" sounds Korean, and "Bon" sounds French to me.

LBD said...

Being the only fat guy in a nation of starvelings must present a tremendous temptation to just kill him and eat him.

John Craig said...

LBD --
Ha! He could probably feed a village for a week.

While researching this post, I stumbled across that brouhaha from late March, which I had somehow missed at the time, when John McCain called him "that crazy fat kid." NK reacted as if McCain had declared war.

Anonymous said...

John Craig,
About marriages, I think the key to have a long marriage that is happy is loving your spouse. Not just romantic love, but love as in love. There are people in my life, relatives and people who I grew up with who I love. Not as in I wan't to date them or take them out for dinner, I just am close enough to love them.

It's a shame English doesn't have 4 specific ones for love like Greek.

Me and another male person can't directly say to each other "I love you" without it coming off sounding like we are gay when there is nothing sexual or romantic going on.

So after the passion dies out, there has to be the regular kind of love to make both be willing to stay with each other when they get so used to things there is nothing new or exciting and life is a routine.

In some of those countries where marriages are arranged, the arranged partner may be someone the other grew up with and already loves, the kind that is more choice and platonic, if they are lucky even if there is no "love" which helps. On the other hands, I remember when visiting Thailand, there was a local faked suicide that was caught by a man of Indian descent in a rural village I visited (the people of the town gossiped) who wanted to escape an arranged marriage.

From a scientific point of view, I think humans are only temporarily monogamous, after raising children to an age where they can fend for themselves and be taken care of by the tribe, they split up and move on to another partner to increase genetic diversity. But screw mother nature, do whatever makes life happier whether it is no marriage or a long permanent one.


Anonymous said...

Also, John,
What is your opinion of diagnosing the mindset of an ethnicity?
I'll requote from that OSS report on the German people's mental state during WW2:
"It was not only Hitler, the madman, who created German madness, but German madness which created Hitler. Having created him as its spokesman and leader.... in spite of the fact that it must be obvious to all intelligent people now that his path leads to inevitable destruction."
"The people, in an overwhelming majority, are so feminine in their nature and attitude that their activities and thoughts are motivated less by sober consideration than by feeling and sentiment."
"In many of the German people there seems to be a strong feminine-masochistic tendency which is usually covered over by more "virile'" characteristics but which finds partial gratification in submissive behavior, discipline, does seem to disturb them and they try to compensate for it by going to the other extreme of courage, pugnaciousness, determination, etc. Most Germans are unaware of this hidden part of their personalities and would deny its existence vehemently...."

Another example of this:

The mindset of the Russian people, influenced by their predispositions, environment, history, and more is responsible for their history up till now of both achievements and disasters.

The mindset of the Jewish people, Chinese, Japanese, Americans, you name it all are quite unique with similarities and difference that can be examined if someone tried. Sometimes it delves into unprovable freudian ridiculousness, other times, it is obvious there are patterns in the culture showing reasons for both dysfunction and achievements.

I believe black people in the USA while they are genetically African are unique enough to not be African but a group of Americans. Many of them who visit Kenya (which is odd, the slaves were taken from western Africa) are often surprised to find out the locals there don't consider them fellow brothers but identify them by their American nationality. Or Irish and Italian-Americans who visit those countries and find they aren't considered long lost brothers since they have diverged enough to be culturally separate like the Afrikaaners and Dutch did.


John Craig said...

Ga --
Males were selected to spread their seed as widely as possible, no other evolutionary strategy makes sense. Females were selected to choose a mate who had good genes, and would stick around to help raise the offspring. No other evolutionary strategy makes sense for them.

Yes, the Greeks did better than us, but four definitions of "love" is still probably too few. There are so many other subtle variations in the way the term is used. A few: I love ice cream. I love teamwork. I love making money. I love the sound of children laughing. I love watching the last light fade out of my enemies' eyes after I crush their skulls with my mace.

Sometimes I think that marriages ought to be done by a computer which matches people according to their interests and temperaments. Sexual passion is really the last thing a marriage ought to be based on. Sometimes I also think that the institution of marriage is a ridiculous one. (Together for the rest of your entire lives? Are you kidding me?)

John Craig said...

Ga --

"What is your opinion of diagnosing the mindset of an ethnicity?"

That's a pretty broad question. Next time, if you could narrow it (to, say, "What is your opinion of humanity?") it would be helpful.

I'll say just a couple things. First, stereotypes exist for a reason. when you're young, you're taught (at least in this country) that stereotypes are evil, the product of narrow, bigoted minds. But as you get older, you start to realize, wow, that stereotype really IS true. And you realize, the "bigots" were the ones who were telling the truth.

Second, I think that while there do seem to be differences in natural temperament between whites, blacks, and Asians, intra-racial differences are not as great as they're sometimes thought to be. Most people are just products of their location and time, and subscribe to whatever the reigning ideology is, mostly out of a desire to fit in. For instance, a lot of people will express horror at what happened during the Inquisition, and will condemn the entire people and country for what happened in, say, Spain, during that era. But the people who condemn another country and era most strongly are the people who can't imagine things being any different than what they are used to. And they are the same type of people who would in fact have gone along with the Inquisition, since they are the ones who just swallow whatever the reigning ideology of the time is. (I've written about this elsewhere on this blog, though I forget where.)

Anonymous said...

You might be interested in this case of a possible organic sociopath, Idi Amin, Ugandan dictator who killed half a million.

His early life seemed ordinary but he contracted syphilis at some point in his life which reached his brain, it lay dormant but progressed eating away, causing damage, as he aged it progressed making him more erratic and unstable which is when his atrocities began.

One of his policies which ruined the country's economy was the expulsion of anyone of Asian descent (mainly Indians). This wasn't like how Hitler stole Jewish wealth. He said they had 90 days to leave and out loud, not sly or a charming. Like Kim Jong Un, stupid evil. I wouldn't be surprised if Kim's lifestyle and poor health causes him to degenerate like so, a typical paranoid madman dictator before he gets a heart attack in the middle of a feast.

There is Mao who lived a nice normal lifespan. Bastard starved over a dozen million and died well at 82, despite being a chainsmoker...the brand he smoked is still sold with the slogan "Mao's personal favorite", Chunghwa brand cigarettes grown with Yunnan tobacco, 25 dollars a pack in a chinatown, I tried one on my China trip, it had the slogan "scent of plums" which was right, like smoking prune juice.

On Kim,
I did some digging and the only reason I could find why he of all people was chosen by Il is his brothers were not "manly" enough. Well he doesn't seem so manly. His brother's must be the most effeminate Koreans on earth if this were true.

On Amin, he also died relatively peacefully, the syphilis finally got him at 78, but he lived in exile in Saudi Arabia until the end. He was said to eat over a dozen miniature oranges a day towards the end of his life, weird habit.

Another evil bastard worth knowing about, King Leopold 2. His evil was the purest, without ideology, madness, paranoia, or grandiose displays. He literally owned the Belgian congo territory as his own private land, he was so bad the government literally colonized the country just to get it out of his hands. 15 million Congolese died because of him. Mark Twain wrote of him calling him one of the most depraved men to ever exist.

And he was the first of his kind and maybe one of the few, not a mad Caligula, ideological fanatic, or a horde of Huns. He didn't have Marxism or or the Japanese Mandate of Heaven, he was not erratic, he did not care for theatrics. His heart was very pure, pure evil that is, but unblemished by distractions or bizarre behaviours. I can't find much about his early life other than his father dying when he was young and a frail mother.


John Craig said...

Ga --
I'm quite familiar with Idi Amin, as a matter of fact I'm old enough to remember when he was in his heyday in Uganda, and even back then (at age 22, before I understood sociopathy), I got a big kick out of him. He had been the light heavyweight boxing champion of the Ugandan Army, and actually did fairly well under British rule. But you're right, it was as if the syphilis made him increasingly mad. One of his wives, Kay, a race car driver, once had an abortion, so he had her killed, and then had her arms and legs cut off and reattached other body in the opposite sockets (left arm to right shoulder, etc). He then showed her mutilated corpse to his other children by her, and told them, "See, this is what happens when you disobey Daddy." He was also known to have kept the decapitated heads of two of his former enemies in a freezer at his home, so he could take them out and berate them from time to time. And he was also known to be a cannibal. I wrote about the various titles he stowed himself here:

And I included him in a "fashion show" (of some the world's worst dictators) here:

I'm less familiar with King Leopold II, though I know of his reputation. I just looked him up; you're right, it's a little frustrating to find that there's little of his childhood or family background to find out how he became the monster he was.

Anonymous said...

In fourteen years Leopold has deliberately destroyed more lives than have suffered death on all the battlefields of this planet for the past thousand years. In this vast statement I am well within the mark, several millions of lives with the mark. It is curious that the most advanced and most enlightened century of all the centuries the sun has looked upon should have the ghastly distinction of having produced this moldy and peity-mouthing hypocrite, this bloody monster whose mate is not findable in human history anywhere, and whose personality will surely shame hell itself when he arrives there--which will be soon, let us hope and trust.
- Mark Twain

Here is that quote. Now if he lived to see what we did in the 20th century.