Voicing their disgust over Jungun Kim’s execution of Songtaek Jang, North Korea’s No. 2 and his mentor, Secretary of State Kerry used words like “ruthless, reckless,” and Senator McCain “aberrational.”
Actually, they are exercised over nothing, no big deal. What happened is just another confirmation of the Korean saying, “A king-maker seldom outlasts the coronation.” Not wanting to owe anyone the king simply gets rid of them. He has the motive, means, and opportunity.
If this normally sufficient explanation doesn’t trivialize the latest North Korean episode there is an aspect that lends some piquancy, though again no big deal in that closed kingdom. In addition to being king-maker and second in command, the victim was married to Gyunghee Kim, king Jungun’s paternal aunt. Not only does she emerge unscathed by the tornado of purges, Jang and his associates charged with treason, but steps right into the center stage, with no hint of the grieving widow who just buried her husband that very morning. On the contrary, she looks peppy and chipper, as if she had just come from an enormously satisfying meal.
Maybe that’s what she did, dine on Songtaek Jang’s carcass, tearing it piece by piece. For a long time we have had reports of cannibalism among the starving masses of North Korea, which, as a new fad in fine dining, could have percolated up to the upper echelons. Moreover, in her case there is an added dimension, the thrill of vengeance. In frenzy she hacks and rends him, enumerating every unauthorized intercourse he had with other women: prominent in the bill of indictment is his flagrant womanizing. But even more gratifying than quenching her own rage of jealousy is her knowledge of having finally avenged her teenage daughter who killed herself in Paris where she was going to school, unable to bear the shock of her parents’ estrangement. In a dog-eat-dog menagerie scores are settled rather cleanly and swiftly.
Aren’t they lucky, Kerry and McCain, who, after daring to run against Barack Obama for President at one time or another, are still holding exalted offices, instead of their bones rotting somewhere, flesh picked clean! So is the choir of ex-Presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and the two Bushes, still alive and kicking! One sure index of a cannibalistic kingdom is absence of ex-kings, death the only mode of exit from the throne.
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